September 30, 2007

Gill steps it up

EVANSTON - Rarely does a defensive tackle lead his team in tackles, but rarely does a tackle play the type of game that John Gill did against Michigan.

Gill was credited with 10 tackles, including the Cats' only sack of the game, in Northwestern's 28-16 loss to Michigan on Saturday at Ryan Field. Just one week after getting massacred at Ohio State, Gill led the charge in the Cats' best and most complete defensive performance of the season.

The top priority for Northwestern's defense on Saturday was to stop Mike Hart and the Michigan ground game, and the Cats were able to limit the nation's second-leading rusher to 3.5 yards per carry in no small part because of Gill. He dropped Hart a total of seven times, and on none of those plays did Hart gain more than three yards.

Gill not only controlled his gap against Michigan, but was able to fend off Michigan's interior blockers and slide down the line of scrimmage to make several plays on Hart, as well. In short, the 6-foot-3, 290-pound junior wreaked havoc in the middle of the line of scrimmage all afternoon.

"When John plays the way he did today, he's one of the best in the Big Ten," said his coach, Pat Fitzgerald.

"All John did was trust himself. He's been getting better each week. He used great technique, protected his legs well when they chopped him in their zone scheme, got off the ball extremely well and I thought he played an outstanding football game."

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