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Northwestern plans to adjust on the fly in opener against Cal

Bryce Treggs Sonny Dykes Nick Forbes

Bryce Treggs, Sonny Dykes, Nick Forbes

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Saturday

No. 22 Northwestern at California

The facts: 9:30 p.m., ESPN2, 720-AM.

2012 records: NU 10-3, Cal 3-9.

The line: Northwestern by 5 1⁄2.

Updated: October 1, 2013 6:51AM



Northwestern’s much-talked-about preparation for a new-look Cal team ended Friday morning when the team left for Berkeley.

But as much as the coaching staff has been forthcoming about its challenge in preparing for the “Air Raid” offense that Sonny Dykes brought to the Golden Bears when he was hired this offseason, their scheming might not start in earnest until the middle of the game.

All week the Wildcats’ defense prepared fundamentally for the general principles of what it will encounter Saturday. But the team will have to wait until game time to see specifically how Dykes will use his new personnel.

“In the opener, the in-game adjusting is more important,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “What are they doing, especially with the new staff? What are they doing with their personnel different than they did at [Louisiana] Tech? They obviously had terrific success offensively at La. Tech. So what they do works and works really, really well. So you’ve got to plan for that.”

Aside from having little game film on Cal, Northwestern has had everything else go its way this week.

Fitzgerald said the Wildcats left camp as healthy as they have been and don’t have any key contributors with injuries. Chicago’s heat has provided them the ­perfect situation to condition themselves.

Considering the 60-degree temperature the Wildcats are likely to see Saturday, Fitzgerald likened the last week to “swinging a heavy bat in the on-deck circle.”

But most importantly for the Wildcats, they have won all seven season openers they have played under Fitzgerald.

“You find out what your team is all about, how you’re able to respond,” Fitzgerald said.

“We’re going to probably face the most adversity that this team has faced here on Saturday. It’s always a challenge to have the opener on the road. We’ve done that multiple times here over my eight years. So we’ve handled it decently.”

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @sethgruen



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