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Coach Pat Fitzgerald says cornerback job up for grabs, too

Updated: October 19, 2012 6:17AM

The offense isn’t the only unit with starting jobs on the line. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said cornerback is another position where several players are competing for a starting job.

Nick VanHoose has started the Wildcats’ first three games and has nailed down one starting spot. Demetrius Dugar also has started the first three games, but backups Quinn Evans and Daniel Jones saw playing time Saturday against Boston College, too.

‘‘It’s about consistency of execution and being aggressive when it’s time to be aggressive and being smart when it’s time to be smart,’’ Fitzgerald said. ‘‘For example, I thought we handled double moves pretty well, which we expect to see each week. I thought we had a little lack of awareness on the tight zone when we’re backed up on the 5- and 10-yard lines.

‘‘It’s the same thing with [the] two-minute [offense]. The one thing we talk about is keeping the ball inside and in front, and we get in a footrace and get a [pass-interference] call. I’m not ready to anoint anybody as far as being the starter over there yet.’’

Injury report

Running back Venric Mark left the game against Boston College with what was described as a ‘‘lower-body injury’’ and didn’t return. Fitzgerald said Mark, NU’s leading rusher, is expected to practice Tuesday and should play Saturday against South Dakota.

Neal Deiters started at right guard in place of a banged-up Chuck Porcelli against Boston College. The two will compete for the starting job in practice this week.

Budzien honored

Junior kicker Jeff Budzien was named Big Ten special-teams player of the week after tying a school record with five field goals against Boston College. He connected from 42, 20, 29, 41 and 19 yards and is 8-for-8 this season.

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