clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Pat Fitzgerald talks Outback Bowl, previews Tennessee, gives injury updates

New, comments
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern is headed to the Outback Bowl to play the Tennessee Volunteers on Jan. 1. A few hours after the announcement, Pat Fitzgerald spoke with the media. Here's what he had to say:

- Fitzgerald when asked about the status of Nick VanHoose and Christian Jones, both of whom suffered injuries against Illinois: "I fully expect [that] all of our guys that have been eligible to play will play in the game."

- Fitzgerald said a lot of seniors have been asking him about the program's last Outback Bowl experience (a 38-35 loss to Auburn in 2010) ever since it looked likely that Northwestern could be headed there. "When I announced it to the team tonight, they were fired up," Fitzgerald said.

- Fitzgerald said he hasn't had time yet to study Tennessee, but has a "snapshot" of them. "Offensively, up-tempo, spread power run game... great play action pass offense, and an ability to throw the ball vertically down the field," he said. "Defensively, four-down front, very athletic in the back half."

- Fitzgerald noted that Tennessee is fourth in the country in third down defense.

- Fitzgerald was full of praise for Tennessee's special teams units. The Volunteers are the No. 1 kick return team in the nation, and the No. 2 punt return team.

- Fitzgerald said Tennessee's staff is one of the ones Fitzgerald and his staff have met with in recent offseasons, with the most recent meeting either coming last offseason or two offseasons ago.

- Fitzgerald: "If you watch them on tape, schematically, especially offensively, there's a lot of similarities to what we're doing.

- Fitzgerald said that of all the bowls he's been to, the Outback Bowl has been his favorite. "Everything is just first class," he said.

- Northwestern has practiced three times since the end of the regular season, including twice at Ryan Field.

- Northwestern's players are off this week for final exams, and will resume practice next week.

- Fitzgerald said Northwestern had a bunch of recruits on campus this past weekend.

- Fitzgerald: "We knew we had to have some things happen for us to sneak in [to the New Year's Six bowls]. But we did not play well enough in a couple games to warrant that. We understand that, we respect that."