Northwestern is on a quarter system, which means they will play three games before students arrive on campus for the first day of class. While that can negatively impact attendance, coaches and players agree there are benefits to classes starting later than at most schools.
Coach Pat Fitzgerald called it a “huge” advantage and a selling point during recruiting because players can prepare for as many as 20 games during the course of their careers without worrying about taking a class.
“That’s like being in the NFL,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s ridiculous. I promise you, our guys love it.”
Because players are limited to an NCAA-mandated 20 hours per week of football-related activities, they have plenty of spare time.
“I remember back in my day I would go back and watch “Doogie Howser” and “The Wonder Years,” Fitzgerald said. “Now they can play video games against each other on their phones.”
Freshman cornerback Nick VanHoose injured his lower back while making a tackle on the first series of Saturday night’s game and did not return. He is expected to play against Boston College on Saturday, however.
Senior Quinn Evans replaced VanHoose and had five tackles against Vanderbilt.
“I asked Nick how he was feeling [Monday] morning,” Fitzgerald said. “He said he just felt a little stiff but he felt great. We’re hopeful he’s going to play Saturday.”
Linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after totalling 10 tackles, including three for losses, a sack and a pass broken up against Vanderbilt. Ironically, it was defensive end Tyler Scott who was named defensive player of the game by Fitzgerald after registering six tackles — two for negative 12 yards — a sack and forced fumble.
It was the second big game in as many weeks for Ariguzo, who returned a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown against Syracuse and also returned an interception 49 yards to set up another score.