Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Football: Sutton back on the field after injury

For five weeks, junior running back Tyrell Sutton has had a few different homes on Saturdays. It was the sideline against Ohio State. It was Evanston when the Cats traveled to Michigan State.

But Tuesday, Sutton may have a new home – the practice field.

For the first time in weeks, Fitzgerald said Monday that Sutton went through the team’s full workout. His status has been reduced from week-to-week to day-to-day, as both player and coach evaluate the situation.

“I need to see him practice a lot before I make any decisions about a game,” Fitzgerald said. “For his sake, he needs to practice a lot after not seeing any action in five weeks.”

NU’s offense has not missed a beat in the absence of its lead back, as backups Omar Conteh and Brandon Roberson have performed admirably. But as Sutton hit the field today, both Conteh and Fitzgerald described Sutton as having “loads of energy” and “solid conditioning,” as he potentially inches closer to his return.

While Conteh has profited greatly in his teammate’s absence – 72 carries for 315 yards and three touchdowns on the season – he expressed nothing but enthusiasm in adding Sutton’s presence to this year’s offense.

“He’s like my brother out there on the field,” Conteh said. “We give each other advice. I’m just waiting for him to come back so we can play together and have fun.”

CONSISTENCY ON CATS’ RADAR

After NU watched Minnesota score touchdowns on five consecutive possessions in the second and third quarters Saturday, a collective light bulb went off in the heads of players and coaches.

“We felt like we didn’t play Northwestern football,” Conteh said. “We felt like we came out too sluggish. We let the game stay too close.”

While the Cats excelled in typical fashion late, that same rush of converting do-or-die fourth downs and last play defensive stops is not in the gameplan for Eastern Michigan.

According to Fitzgerald, the team is missing one key.

“Now we need to get that killer instinct,” he said. “We’ve got an opportunity and we need to finish drives, make field goals and make stops. If you do those things in the first half, and play for 60 minutes, the game won’t go to double overtime.”

BOWL ASPIRATIONS?

When the Cats reached the Sun Bowl in 2005, their season did not begin on the brightest of notes.

A 52-21 loss against Arizona State left NU at the same 2-2 mark they faced this season, ready to enter Big Ten play. But three conference wins later, the talk was the same as it is now: Where will NU be in December?

Asked if he knew where his team would be, Conteh had no notion of a specific place.

“I think in the back of our minds, we all have a goal,” he said. “But, I’ll say no.”

Three of the Cats’ final four conference contests pit them against teams with equal or worse records in the Big Ten. Iowa and Purdue stand at 1-2, while Indiana is even at 2-2. In a matter of two victorious overtime gasps, the season has narrowed to NU’s weekly focus: one day at a time, one game at a time, one play at a time.

When asked if every game down the season was of utter importance, Conteh’s answer was simple.

“Most definitely.”

Reach Chris Gentilviso [email protected].

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Football: Sutton back on the field after injury