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Northwestern’s Dan Vitale fits in with either QB at the helm

Updated: September 22, 2013 6:42AM



The skill sets of Northwestern quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian might dictate that superback Dan Vitale is best suited to play with Siemian under center.

The speedy Colter is at his best with the field spread to give him wide running lanes to attack. Traditionally, this would call for four-receiver sets.

But Colter’s praise of Vitale after Tuesday’s practice indicates that the sophomore superback has the athleticism to fit into the offense regardless of who’s calling the plays.

“He gives us the ability to put a guy out there that can block on the edge, block on the interior and then also make plays and have mismatches on safeties and corners,” Colter said. “So he’s definitely a great threat and a guy that’s going to help us a lot. It’s all about mismatches really.”

That’s been the hallmark of Vitale’s game since he arrived on campus last season.

After having played in all 13 games, the coaching staff knew Vitale’s combination of size and speed presented the kind of mismatches they like to create in opposing defensive backfields.

For Northwestern, the superback typically lines up where the tight end would in other offenses. But it’s given its name because of the multitude of tasks put upon a player who fills that role.

The superback blocks in the run game, can be put in the backfield and brought in motion.

And if Vitale is asked to do more, he’s confident he’ll be successful — even if it means splitting out as a receiver to spread the field for Colter.

“They can put me wherever they wanted and I’ve figured out a way to make it work,” Vitale said. “That’s a good thing about the skill set that I do have.”

Email: sethgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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