With tailback Venric Mark well on his way to a 1,000-yard rushing season, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald now realizes that the Wildcats’ staff maybe had him pegged incorrectly when Mark began his college career as a receiver.
Mark has ran for 792 yards (5.9 per carry) and eight touchdowns this season, although the junior from Tomball, Texas, checks in at just 5 foot 8 and 175 pounds.
“We weren’t quite sure what position we were going to put him at and start him at, and as you can see we were wrong starting him at wide receiver,” Fitzgerald said Tuesday on the Big Ten teleconference. “Not that he wasn’t making plays, but he’s just been so dynamic for us this year. Hindsight being 20/20, I wish we would have started him in the backfield sooner.”
Fitzgerald said it was a staff decision late last season to move Mark to tailback.
“We just really felt like we needed to get him more involved and get him more touches,” Fitzgerald said.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said the things that stand out with Mark are his quickness and ability to hit holes in a flash.
“I think he fits their offense really well and I think they use him the right way,” Pelini said.
Mark also continues to be the Wildcats’ best return threat. Through seven games, he is averaging 28.8 yards on eight punt returns (with two touchdowns) and 16.0 on 11 kickoff returns.