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Northwestern superback Dan Vitale excels in blocking game

Northwestern superback Dan Vitale only caught one pass for four yards in the Wildcats’ 38-17 win over Western Michigan Saturday. Yet, it was still a career day for the sophomore.

“I thought Dan played probably his most physical game of his career on Saturday,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “He played 66 plays which is the most that he’s every played. I thought Dan played really well.”

Fitzgerald said after Tuesday’s practice that he hopes Vitale doesn’t have to play that many plays in the future. But he was such a key part of the running game on Saturday that Fitzgerald didn’t have much choice.

Through three games this season, Vitale has shown the kind of versatility that makes him a dynamic offensive threat. He’s lined up as a tight end, in the backfield and as a receiver in the slot. In the season opener at Cal, Vitale caught five passes for 101 yards.

But Saturday Fitzgerald wanted to remain committed to the run game and Vitale was fine just playing as a blocker.

“Got to be prepared for that, especially at the superback position,” Vitale said. “You’ve got to be able to do everything. So I wasn’t surprised by it. If you can run the football, you’ve got to do it. It’s one of the keys to winning. So I wasn’t surprised by it and I just accepted the role.”