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

The Daily Northwestern

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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: No pains on offense

Take heart, Northwestern faithful. Rumors of Tyrell Sutton’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

The Wildcats’ star running back participated fully in practice Wednesday, four days after leaving NU’s 16-8 win over Ohio with a left leg injury.

Sutton clarified Wednesday that the injury was to his left hamstring but added it no longer bothered him.

“I worked with the trainers today, and it felt good,” he said. “It felt loose.”

The senior tailback left Satuday’s win near the end of the second quarter after breaking a 33-yard run, his longest of the day. Speaking to reporters for the first time since the injury, Sutton was his usual joking self.

“You know, I’m so fast, I think I kind of hurt it that way,” he said with a mischievous grin. “Trying to go from first to fifth all at one time.”

Sutton’s battery mate C.J. Bachér also showed no ill effects from his own injury. The senior quarterback jammed the thumb and middle fingers of his right hand when he hit the shoulder pad of an Ohio defender after a first-quarter pass.

Bachér has practiced without any tape on his hand all week and said he has the same “power” in his throws.

The Defense Gets Offensive

For yet another practice, the Cats’ defense ratcheted up the intensity from the sidelines. Chants of “Win” and “Kill” could be heard as the defense put the pressure on NU’s offense in third-down drills.

“Well, defense, there’s kind of an emotional aspect to it,” first-year coordinator Mike Hankwitz said of the chants. “You play with a little extra intensity. It gives us an extra edge on defense. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Long considered NU’s weak link, the defense has been the stronger unit this season, holding consecutive opponents under 10 points for the first time in 13 years and earning a No. 13 national ranking in scoring defense.

For senior middle linebacker Malcolm Arrington, NU’s defensive success after years of struggling is especially sweet.

“It’s a long time coming,” he said. “My senior class, and the younger guys, we’ve all made a stand to prove everybody wrong. We’re playing with a chip on our shoulder.”

After allowing 26.9 points per game last season, NU is allowing less than half that (11.3 ppg) so far this year under Hankwitz. Arrington and the other seniors are determined that the defense will not be a liability this year.

“We’ve told (the freshmen) that we have something to prove this year,” Arrington said. “This is going to be a special year.”

NU’s stingy defense has fired up its offense as well, who no longer have to worry about scoring 40 points to win.

“It’s amazing,” Sutton said of the defense’s play. “It’s something that I don’t think anyone here has seen from Northwestern since coach (Pat Fitzgerald) was playing here. To be an offensive guy and know that our defense is really stacked is gratifying.”

The song remains the same

To the general public, NU’s record is an unblemished 4-0. But to Fitzgerald and the players, the team’s record is the same every day: 0-0.

Fitzgerald’s mantra has been repeated again and again by the Cats when asked about their undefeated start. While it may seem like a mere motivational tool, safety Brendan Smith said the message actually starts to sink in with repetition.

“The more you say it, the more you definitely believe it,” he said. “Even in the game, it’s always the next play or the next thing. If you did well, great, do better next time. If you make an interception you want another one. So it’s always, if we win a game, it’s like: ‘Great, but that’s in the past, so get ready to go again.'”

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Football: No pains on offense