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Northwestern rarin’ to go against Cal


In just his first two college games BrandVitabile is helping Northwestern’s line carve out holes for running game. | Stephen

In just his first two college games, Brandon Vitabile is helping Northwestern’s line carve out holes for the running game. | Stephen Carrera~Northwestern

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Updated: September 30, 2013 7:49AM



Northwestern center Brandon Vitabile tried his best to get a little break from football Tuesday. He went home and turned on his TV, but he quickly realized he would have no such luck: A replay of the Bears’ preseason game against the Oakland Raiders was on.

The silver lining was at least it was a little different than the football he has been watching all week to get ready for the Wildcats’ season opener Saturday at California.

‘‘I was like, ‘I can’t get away from it,’ ’’ Vitabile said. ‘‘So it was pretty funny, but I actually watched it just to get someone else who’s not wearing [NU’s] purple or [Cal’s] blue and gold right now.’’

NU has an unorthodox structure to its game-week schedule. The Wildcats have meetings in the morning and practice at night to simulate the conditions of their 9:30 p.m. start against the Golden Bears. Practice ran till 11 p.m. Tuesday.

In addition, coach Pat Fitzgerald’s coordinators and position coaches are logging long hours in the film room, looking for any edge they can find against a team with a new coaching staff and scheme.

Fitzgerald sees part of his job as being the staff’s filter. He’ll differentiate good insight from too much analysis. And, if need be, Fitzgerald will ‘‘shut the lights’’ on his staff.

‘‘We’re thinking about way too much garbage right now,’’ Fitzgerald said. ‘‘So, yeah, I do want to play. At the same time, you’re looking at all these contingency plans and the what-ifs that might happen in the opener. . . . You get some paralysis by analysis with all this time, so I’ll have to be all over the coaches a little bit.’’

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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