Football: Fitzgerald, players talk Minnesota prep, Northwestern debuts Homecoming uniforms

FRESH+LOOK+Northwestern%E2%80%99s+Homecoming+uniforms%2C+unveiled+Monday%2C+feature+a+%E2%80%9Cgothic%E2%80%9D+black+and+gold+design.+The+uniforms+also+include+ivy+imagery+on+the+jersey+and+pants+and+The+Arch+is+pictured+on+the+helmets.

Joseph Diebold/Daily Senior Staffer

FRESH LOOK Northwestern’s Homecoming uniforms, unveiled Monday, feature a “gothic” black and gold design. The uniforms also include ivy imagery on the jersey and pants and The Arch is pictured on the helmets.

Joseph Diebold, Assistant Gameday Editor

Anyone who has taken a walk along Northwestern’s campus will recognize the inspiration behind the “Gothic” Homecoming uniforms the team will wear Oct. 18 in its Homecoming matchup with No. 21 Nebraska.

The font on the uniforms, which are black with purple accents and gold trim, is the same as the one on the signs that label campus buildings. Deering Library’s ivy accents a pattern on the pants. The Arch is printed in gold on the back of the helmets.

NU unveiled the uniforms Monday prior to coach Pat Fitzgerald’s weekly news conference, where the coach discussed Saturday’s win over then-No. 17 Wisconsin and the team’s preparation for this week’s matchup at Minnesota.

Same old, same old

Unlike last week, when NU went from facing pass-happy Penn State to run-heavy Wisconsin, there will be few new looks for the Wildcats this week: The Golden Gophers are Badgers-lite, with a strong running game, questionable quarterback play, a stout defense and disciplined special teams.

“I start every game and our prep with a special teams evaluation of our opponent,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s where I start every week. With Minnesota, that’s what jumps off the tape to you. They’re very well coached. They’re fast. They’re physical.”

Senior linebacker Collin Ellis said Minnesota’s schemes are similar to what the Cats saw on Saturday.

“They’re a big, physical, power-run team,” Ellis said. “Welcome to the Big Ten.”

More plaudits for the rookies

For the second week in a row, an NU player was awarded Big Ten Freshman of the Week. Following Anthony Walker’s win for his performance against Penn State, safety Godwin Igwebuike took home the honor following his three-interception game against the Badgers. Igwebuike added the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week award for good measure.

Fitzgerald was more reserved with his praise, saying like Walker the previous week, Igwebuike made the highlight plays but also had the mental errors you expect from a young player in his first career start.

“We talk to the guys all the time about being a play away,” he said. “That just goes to show you if you’re prepared and take advantage of the opportunity, great things can happen. Again, both Anthony and Godwin played well. I think both can definitely play better. And both guys gave credit to the seniors that helped them, and I think that’s a pretty solid statement about where this team’s at right now.”

Ellis said the team was hardly surprised by Igwebuike’s standout performance.

“All of us have known that Godwin is a special character, a special player,” he said. “He’s a good ballplayer. He goes up and gets the ball, and he had some crazy athletic catches.”

The freshman will start again this week, as senior Ibraheim Campbell remains out with a hamstring injury. In other injury news, Fitzgerald said he hopes freshman running back Solomon Vault will be back this week after missing the Wisconsin game.

Setting the tone

Fans and observers have wondered how a team that looked so sloppy early in the year could have rebounded so quickly, becoming the only Big Ten team so far to go 2-0 in conference.

One possible key? A team meeting held following NU’s 0-2 start that multiple players said helped breach some communication gaps that had developed between the team’s Leadership Council and the rest of the roster.

“After the second loss we were kind of like, ‘We’re beating ourselves,'” Ellis said. “We got together as a team, just the players, and talked about a lot of stuff. Guys who had never spoken stood up like, ‘This is what’s going on.’ We had some things that we had to address.”

Senior wide receiver Kyle Prater said when the quieter players spoke up in the meeting, it caught the team’s attention.

“When you have guys that never speak up in a meeting like that, it’s big,” Prater said. “We all listen because we want to hear from those guys, because those are guys that sometimes get lost in the shuffle. And to hear them speak up, it pays dividends in the long road. From that meeting to here right now, we’ve had a great turnaround. I don’t think we need much more of that because we know what we need to get done.”

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