Gameday: Dickerson, Wildcats hope to dance their way out of losing streak

John Paschall, Assistant Gameday Editor

When the going gets tough, the tough get dancing.

Or at least that’s what sophomore Cameron Dickerson’s plan is.

Northwestern is on a three-game losing streak, its longest since 2011. But you couldn’t tell that by watching Dickerson and senior wide receiver Rashad Lawrence busting dance moves left and right at practice.

Dickerson said it’s his responsibility to keep the team loose because at the end of the day, playing football is just a game.

“After my freshman year, the coaches have looked to me to keep everyone up,” he said. “Shad was doing it before I got here, and now I brought out a little bit more in him. Both of us are out here trying to make sure everyone has the most fun.”

Dickerson has had a quiet season so far, only catching seven passes, but he’s averaging more than 10 yards a catch and had a touchdown late in the Ohio State game that temporarily gave NU the lead.

The New Jersey native said dancing around at practice has allowed him to stay relaxed during a trying season.

“I found throughout my life that I play my best when I’m out there having fun,” Dickerson said. “When I get too tense, that’s when I start making mistakes. When I’m loose, I’m out there playing my best.”

As for who’s the better dancer, both gave the honor to the other person.

“I think a lot of my dance moves come from Shad,” Dickerson said. “He’s the inspiration to all of them.”

“He’s actually thinking about making a dance tutorial and putting it on YouTube,” Lawrence said of Dickerson.

But when the beat stops and the roar of the crowd makes waves throughout the stadium, it’ll be back to business for the receivers. Last year, the Cats’ receivers took a backseat to the running game in a win over Iowa. NU passed for only 84 yards on 10 throws compared to 349 yards on 49 carries on the ground.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald said the familiarity with the Hawkeyes’ defense helps offensive preparation but can only goes so far against a stout unit.

“Statistically, (Iowa’s defense) is outstanding,” Fitzgerald said. “Great defensive line play. They’re physical. The best linebacking corps in the league from a three-man group. … Secondary is very opportunistic and do a great job of keeping the ball inside and in front.”

The Hawkeyes have already posted nine interceptions after picking off 10 passes all of last year. But in its three losses this year, Iowa has only recorded two turnovers.

Dickerson said the receivers have to find their inner artists and paint a perfect picture for the quarterbacks to help accelerate the passing game. And in the chance that a ball is thrown poorly their way, they’ll have to become defenders.

“If we ever get a bad ball or a cornerback makes a play, because you know, they’re on scholarship too, we can always bat a ball down and do our best to become defenders at that point,” Dickerson said.

Fitzgerald has harped all week on his offense’s failure to execute in the moment. For receivers, execution is all about giving their signal callers a space to throw to and nailing down the basics.

“It means running our routes as precise as possible,” Dickerson said. “We got to do a better job blocking on the perimeter and springing our running backs. That’s one thing that we haven’t really had these last couple of games. With those run plays will come the passing game and open up play action.”

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