Chicago Colleges: Demetrius Fields

Miscues undo Syracuse in one-point loss

September, 1, 2012
9/01/12
4:37
PM CT

Did Keon Lyn get too greedy, or did the officials overreact to Trevor Siemian's timely tumble?

Regardless, Syracuse's 13th and final penalty of the game was ultimately the one that did the Orange in during Saturday's opener at the Carrier Dome, where their 22-point comeback went for naught in a 42-41 loss to Northwestern.

Lyn was charged with a late hit on Siemian, the Wildcats' quarterback, with less than a minute left on a third-and-15 play deep in Syracuse territory. With new life, Siemian hit Demetrius Fields for a 9-yard touchdown pass with 44 seconds remaining, and Jeff Budzien's extra point accounted for the final and decisive points.

The miscues took away from a monster day by Orange quarterback Ryan Nassib, who set school records with 44 completions (on 64 attempts) and 472 yards passing. He tossed four touchdown passes and one interception, leading Syracuse back from a 35-13 deficit to take a 41-35 lead with 2:40 remaining.

The Wildcats had rattled off 28 unanswered points of their own before the Orange's comeback, but their secondary gave up big play after big play.

Syracuse had 596 yards of total offense to Northwestern's 337, but the Orange turned the ball over three times.

Venric Mark returned a punt 82 yards for a Northwestern touchdown in the first quarter, and Chi Chi Ariguzo recovered a Jerome Smith third-quarter fumble and brought it back 33 yards.

Nassib, whose four touchdown tosses all came in the second half, played exactly how you would expect from a senior. But miscues elsewhere proved too much to overcome for Syracuse, which won't have a chance next week against USC unless it shores up some of those loose ends.

WR Jones rewarding Northwestern's loyalty

March, 13, 2012
3/13/12
8:52
AM CT
Northwestern stuck by Christian Jones during a tough time, and that perseverance is shaping up as a mutually beneficial decision.

Jones was a highly-regarded wide receiver prospect out of Houston who had several scholarship offers after his junior year of high school, including ones from Arkansas, Texas Tech and other BCS programs. But during spring practice before his senior year, he tore his right ACL in a one-on-one drill.

[+] EnlargeChristian Jones
Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireWildcats receiver Christian Jones had his best game last season against Michigan. Can he excel in 2012?
"The coaches told me I should hold back and not do too much, but my competitive nature wouldn't let me," he said. "I ran a circle route a little too hard, and came out of my break really fast. My knee just popped out of place. It was bad."

Bad enough that it scared most of the big schools away from recruiting Jones. Many pulled their scholarship offers off the table. But not Northwestern.

"They told me they'd always hold up their end of the deal even if somebody got injured," Jone said. "That really stuck with me."

So Jones committed to the Wildcats that summer and then made a speedy recovery, playing his senior season just five months after his ACL surgery. Though he didn't produce at a high level that year, he arrived in Evanston feeling 100 percent healthy, and he made an immediate impact on the field as a true freshman in 2011.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder earned a starting job midway through the season and finished the year with 16 catches for 195 yards. That included a 39-yard grab versus Michigan.

This spring, Jones is looking to become a much bigger contributor. He has moved inside to the slot receiver position, which Jeremy Ebert held down the past two years. Ebert had over 2,000 yards receiving and 19 touchdowns the last two seasons combined, so his graduation leaves a large void in the offense. Someone has to pick up the slack; perhaps that someone will be Jones, who's still learning the finer points of the game.

"I've developed more as a technical receiver," he said. "I realized last year that everything isn't based off speed and athleticism. You have to be better at your technique then they are, so I'm working on becoming a better route runner, a better cutter and more of a student of the game.

"[Moving inside], I actually have to learn how to read defenses now and how to play on the fly."

Jones should have plenty of company at the receiver spot, with Demetrius Fields, Rashad Lawrence and Tony Jones among the veterans returning. USC transfer Kyle Prater is scheduled to enroll later this month and go through some late spring practices as he awaits word from the NCAA whether he can play the 2012 season for Northwestern.

"As a whole, we want to be greatly respected as receivers," Jones said. "I think we'll spread the ball out a lot more this season. We all have a great passion and a great feel for the game. Kyle has a great mind and a great build, and I think he'll fit into our group well."

Jones has been a good fit so far with Northwestern and vice versa. Loyalty has its rewards.

Big shoes to fill: Northwestern

March, 6, 2012
3/06/12
10:17
AM CT
We're nearing the conclusion of our series looking at two departing stars players from each Big Ten team whose shoes need to be filled this spring. Today we focus the lens on Northwestern, which started spring drills over the weekend. We already know that Kain Colter is the top choice to replace the large void left by quarterback Dan Persa, so we'll take a look at two other spots.

[+] EnlargeJeremy Ebert
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastJeremy Ebert accounted for 137 receptions and 2,013 receiving yards for Northwestern over the past two seasons.
BIG SHOES TO FILL: Jeremy Ebert, WR

Why: Ebert was the Wildcats' leading receiver and one of the best in the Big Ten each of the past two seasons. He caught 75 passes for 1,060 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011.

Replacement candidates: Christian Jones (6-3, 225, Soph.); Demetrius Fields (6-0, 210, Sr.); Tony Jones (6-0, 185, Soph); Rashad Lawrence (6-2, 185, Jr.); Kyle Prater (6-5, 215, Soph-Tr).

The skinny: The big X-factor here is Prater, the USC transfer who is hoping to gain immediate eligibility for this season. He will enroll March 26 and will have to wait for an NCAA ruling this summer. Christian Jones played in all 13 games last year as a true freshman, catching 16 passes for 195 yards. He's got the physical tools to be a No. 1 receiver. Fields had a career-best seven catches in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, perhaps signaling he's ready to take off. Tony Jones sat out last year because of injury but has a lot of speed. Northwestern has a lot of depth here, but can anyone produce at a consistently high level like Ebert?

BIG SHOES TO FILL: Brian Peters, S

Why: Peters was one of the leaders of the Wildcats' defense, a three-year starter who had 92 tackles and five interceptions last season. He was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the media.

Replacement candidates: Hunter Bates (5-10, 180, Sr.); Jared Carpenter (6-0, 205, Sr.); Davion Fleming (5-10, 200, Jr.); Matt Carpenter (6-2, 200, R-Fr.); Jimmy Hall (6-2, 205, Soph.); Terrance Brown, (6-1, 195, incoming freshman); Traveon Henry (6-1, 200, incoming freshman); Joseph Jones (6-1, 200, incoming freshman).

The skinny: Bates has learned as Peters' backup and should be ready to challenge for a starting spot this spring, though he struggled at times in 2011. Jared Carpenter served as the backup at the other safety spot, which will be manned by sophomore Ibraheim Campbell, but Carpenter is injured and won't go through spring drills. Fleming and Hall are promising athletes who just need more experience. Defensive back in general is a concern for the Wildcats this spring after a subpar 2011 on pass defense and the loss of both Peters and top cornerback Jordan Mabin. Several young players could earn playing time with strong performances in practice.

Five things to watch at NU's spring practice

March, 2, 2012
3/02/12
10:52
PM CT
Here are five areas to watch when Northwestern’s spring football practice begins on Saturday:

[+] EnlargeKain Colter
AP Photo/Mary SchwalmKain Colter is the front-runner, but the Wildcats' QB job is up for grabs.
1. Quarterback competition: Junior-to-be Kain Colter, sophomore Trevor Siemian and redshirt freshman Zack Oliver will all get a shot at the starting job with the graduation of Dan Persa.

Colter is the leading candidate after filling in for Persa when he was injured last season. Colter was 55-of-82 passing for 673 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. Siemian also saw time and was 16 of 26 for 256 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Northwestern could use multiple quarterbacks with Colter being a threat at wide receiver. He caught 43 passes for 466 yards and three touchdowns last season.

“As I told him a year ago at this point, ‘You’re going to be on the field,’” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said recently of Colter. “‘I don’t anticipate you standing next to me a whole lot.’ I fully anticipate that this year, and I fully expect it to be at quarterback. But I think Trevor has something to say about that. I think Zach has something to say about that. That’s what’s so fun about spring ball is the competition. We’ll see where we’re at after 15 practices.”

Fitzgerald said he’d prefer to have a starter anointed by the end of the spring practices, but he was also fine with continuing the competition in the early fall practices.

(Read full post)

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