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Northwestern Football Media Day Round-up

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Northwestern football media day featured a lot of "Fitz-isms" (the go-to phrases of coach Pat Fitzgerald) but there were a few interesting answers and some entertaining moments.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

For the (mostly full...#technologyprobz) press conferences, click here.

The day started out with the offense: center Brandon Vitabile, quarterback Trevor Siemian, running back Venric Mark and wide receiver Christian Jones.

Mark on disappointing season last year: "As a whole, we know that last year (is) not the standard of Northwestern football and that's not the standard that we hold for ourselves."

Siemian on the identity of the football team: "One thing that we've kind of been good at over the years and we kind of lost a little bit alst year is controlling the line of scrimmage and being physical in the trenches...those are two things we need to be able to do."

Mark on returning from injury: "I've really never been hurt like that, sidelined for a whole entire season...it had a toll on me mentally and of course physically...but I felt like I had a good support system. I was able to come back in a timely fashion and I feel healthy right now, ready to go."

Jones thanked coach Fitzgerald for honoring his scholarship after Jones got hurt his senior year of high school...most of his other offers dropped him. He says it's part of his motivation:  "To know that I have a chance to play those certain teams gives me an edge."

Vitabile on only going back to the one-QB system this year: "It's been an interesting ride. I've played with a couple guys. Trevor is probably more likely to get rid of the ball and not try to take off running down the field, so I'm aware that I have to be really good at the point of attack, give him some time..." Then Siemian jumped in: "I don't know about that."

Siemian's got jokes:

Next up were the defensive players: defensive end Deonte Gibson, linebacker Collin Ellis, safety Ibraheim Campbell and defensive tackle Sean McEvilly.

The players were asked what they would change if they could change one thing about the NCAA (prompted by the vote to give the Power 5 conferences more autonomy). Ellis said: "Kind of structured more like Northwestern does it with the four-year guaranteed scholarships. Players are going out there, risking limbs...the least that a school can do is honor them for their entire four year term."

Gibson on switching to No. 13 (the same of Siemian): "I've always wanted to be a little bit like Trevor...Honestly it was just a new chapter I wanted to do, a new switch. The first few years I've been here, I've had a bit of an injury problem...I just wanted to switch it up completely and get a fresh new start, especially after a year like last year." He also said it was his number in high school, which he wore for his brother, Nate Oliver, who was his favorite player.

Campbell on his relationship with younger safety Traveon Henry: "I feel like Tre does a great job of pushing me. We push each other. We're different kind of guys; I'm more quiet, he's kind of loud, likes to make noise, but we're always at each other's backs and we're always trying to have fun also. We push each other constantly and our goal is to push each other to be the top in the Big Ten...then push our position groups as well and the defense as a whole."

Offensive coordinator Mick McCall and defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz took their turn at the podium.

Hankwitz on why the players were so frustrated with all the losses last year: "I could argue that we were one play away from winning (most of those games)."

McCall said he's glad to have Venric Mark back, and Hankwitz also said he's glad to have him back: "He's hard to practice against but he makes us better."

McCall says having one QB will give the offense more consistency. He also mentioned that, for now, Zack Oliver is the No. 2 QB.

Finally coach Pat Fitzgerald took his turn to face the media.

Last year's theme in camp was "5:03," referring to the fact that they were 5 minutes and 3 seconds away from being undefeated in 2012. Fitz said the theme this year is reestablishing their standards.

Fitz repeated his mantra that competition makes everyone better. "I think we're going to play more guys, more than we ever have, from a competition standpoint."

He said an advantage of their schedule this year is starting the season at home for the first month. "We're going to probably know a lot more about our team, going into the bye week, than most of our brothers here in the Big Ten, from a standpoint of who we're playing." Not-so-subtle dig at the cupcake non-conference schedules of some Big Ten teams.

Fitz called the competition on special teams "wide open." Apparently everyone is trying to get a turn:

Fitz was also asked about the "Power 5 autonomy" vote and what he'd like to see changed about the NCAA. His response was no different than usual: he looks forward to having discussions about "how to makes the student-athlete experience better" for all student-athletes.