Rested Wildcats return to work

It took nine week of football before Northwestern was allowed a break from action. The Wildcats' bye week provided a much-needed break and the chance to receive some rest. Now, NU is back to work in preparation of a matchup with Michigan

Pat Fitzgerald is a fan of college football, but finds himself on the job most Saturdays in the fall. He had this past weekend off from work, so spent the day on his couch watching games.

"That's all I did," said Fitzgerald, recapping his Saturday. "It was terrific. This college football thing is pretty cool."

Each Saturday since September, Northwestern has taken the field for a game. The team has been hard at work each week since camp started in August. A week of rest proved to be much needed.

Many Wildcats returned home to visit with family and friends. Others opted to stay in Evanston and relax.

"I really caught up on my sleep," sophomore receiver Christian Jones said.

During the bye week, Northwestern coaches worked the recruiting trails, with time away from the team. During the weekend, Fitzgerald locked the doors of NU's Nicolet Football Center, keeping his staff away from work.

"I think they got themselves all in trouble at home on Saturday," joked Fitzgerald. "I don't think their wives enjoyed having them at home too much."

Three months into the season, it's rare a football player can claim perfect health. The daily wear and tear takes its toll on each player's body. A little bit of rest proved to be fruitful.

"For everybody it's really been huge, but especially for the guys who've been out there in the trenches week in, week out," defensive end Quentin Williams offered. "Those nicks and bruises, we had a week to take a step back and get our legs back.

While the Wildcats did take the practice field during the bye week, the workouts were light and productive.

"The week off was one that was needed by us," Fitzgerald said. "We needed to get healthy, needed to work on some things in areas where we've not been consistent enough in. And then, at the same time, continue to accentuate the areas where we've been playing very well."

As the Wildcats reconvened on Monday, following a weekend of rest, relaxation, and time in front of the television watching football, Fitzgerald asked what they learned being observers of the game.

"They made fun of me," said Fitzgerald. 'Just like you said. It comes down to five or six plays. It comes down to the fourth quarter.' Maybe now that they've seen it, they'll believe me a little bit more. Almost every Big Ten game about came down to the wire."

With a challenging stretch ahead, the Wildcats will hope their bye week proves productive.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for Big Red Report, and currently covers the Northwestern Wildcats and Chicago Cubs. He currently resides on Chicago's north side.
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