Pat Fitzgerald and players Dan Vitale, Matt Frazier and Nick VanHoose met with the media Monday to discuss, among other things, the victory over Minnesota, the upcoming matchup with Michigan and what it meant to get Frazier back last week.
(Videos courtesy of Northwestern Athletics)
- Minnesota was "probably [Clayton Thorson's] most consistent game of the year as far as making good choices," according to Fitzgerald.
- Fitzgerald thinks that getting into a routine with school and practice will be beneficial, but players must manage their time well as midterms approach.
- "Coach Harbaugh and his staff have done a terrific job obviously being there for their first year. They've got a great plan in all three phases. Very talented group. What jumps out to me, first off defensively, is their front."
- Fitzgerald on Jake Rudock: "Jake has been in the league for a long time. He's played against us multiple times. He's had great success at his previous institution and he's got a lot of weapons across the board." He says the two offensive game plans (Iowa and Michigan), however, are "totally different."
- Jabrill Peppers is a guy that "every time he touches the ball he can take it to the house" as a returner.
- "Jim's a tough guy, and you can see that his personality's all over this football team in all three phases."
- Fitzgerald is impressed and surprised by how many veterans are on the team, something uncommon for a team with a new head coach transitioning in.
- When asked if this is a statement game, Fitzgerald responded with, "I don't know what that is."
- Fitzgerald on his young quarterback playing at The Big House: "I'll tell Clayton to take care of the football and do his job and we'll prepare like we do for every road game. We have a road game plan that we enact and we'll go through that typical protocol this week."
- Fitzgerald on Matt Frazier returning: "From a personal standpoint it was emotional... I'm just incredibly inspired and happy for Matt. He's been through a ton." Frazier will get the start at left guard this week, and is "pound for pound our strongest player," according to Fitzgerald.
- On last year's #M00N: "They kicked our ass. You can put on the tape. They kicked our ass... We need to bring our big boy pads. It's Big Ten football."
- Fitzgerald says that the defensive backs were very disappointed in their effort against Ball State. They responded well against Minnesota.
- "We put together, finally, a complete week of practice last week offensively. We had a good Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and I thought it showed on Saturday."
- "I think that group played their best game of the year on Saturday against a team we prepared for. When we popped on Minnesota's d-line, those guys got after people and it was very impressive to watch. We've still got a long way to go, but it's a big, big step in the right direction." -Fitzgerald on the offensive line's performance
- Fitzgerald sees Miles Shuler getting more and more comfortable returning punts every week.
- Fitzgerald thought the tackling Saturday was the worst he had seen this year. "We are far, far from what we are capable of being in all three phases."
- Fitzgerald said growing up a Bears fan, he used to root for Harbaugh. He is close to both Jim and John Harbaugh.
Here's what Vitale, Frazier and VanHoose had to say: