"We're positive about it," sophomore center Brandon Vitabile said. "I know what [observers] know; you see out there how much of a fighter [Mark] is and how much he wants to be out there, he loves it and we love having him out there."
VanHoose was close to playing against Michigan, following a week of limited activity in practice, but was held out by the coaching staff. He will be evaluated throughout the week before a decision is made for the Michigan State game.
"He was close last week, but we made the decision that was right for him," Fitzgerald said of VanHoose. "We'll see how he progresses this week. I've got to see some things in practice. More importantly, he needs to see some things in practice. He's grinding at it."
NU will need to be patient with its two key players as they recover from injury. If either is unable to play against the Spartans, it will be next man up for the Wildcats.
"We know whoever's going to carry the flag is going to do a great job," said Vitabile.
Northwestern returns to the practice field on Tuesday to prepare for its next contest.