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Pat Fitzgerald: "We're going to have roles for" the other QBs

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Also at Meet the Team Night

EVANSTON — Pat Fitzgerald says that Northwestern will "have roles" for quarterbacks Zack Oliver and Matt Alviti after both lost out to Clayton Thorson in an offseason-long QB competition.

Fitzgerald, speaking at Northwestern's Meet the Team night for the first time since naming Clayton Thorson the starter, didn't specify what those roles would be, or how sizable they would be. It almost seemed as if he began to talk about the roles for Alviti and Oliver, but then realized it would be better not to reveal anything. Or maybe he's just not sure yet.

Here was Fitzgerald's full response to a question on how long Thorson's leash would be if he struggles:

"I'm not going to worry about that, and that's what I told him. I said, ‘You don't need to look over your shoulder, you don't need to worry about things, just go out and be you, and do what you do and be successful. I anticipate that he will.

We're going to have roles for the other guys, and they'll be prepared, if that ever were to happen. With what we want to do offensively, in the past, we've played multiple quarterbacks. One year, we specifically played two. I'm not saying we're doing that now, and I'm not saying we're not doing that now. But we've had to play multiple quarterbacks [in the past], and both Matt and Zack know that. And they know that the only thing they can control is their attitude, and then obviously the way that they prepare. Their attitudes have been unbelievable, and I fully expect that they'll be prepared if their opportunity presents itself."

Whether or not he means Oliver and/or Alviti will see playing time is unclear. It very well could just mean that those two should prepare as if they will play — as all backups are told to do.

Fitzgerald also said that the competition was tight throughout camp, and that it was more a matter of being forced into making a decision by time than Thorson gradually separating himself from the other two as camp progressed.

"I don't think anybody went head and shoulders out in front," Fitzgerald said. "I don't think anyone took a big step back. We've had that happen in the past but not this time. And that's what I told all three guys when I met them, I truly believe that we can win with all three guys right now."

Fitzgerald apparently informed the team of the decision to start Thorson Wednesday night. The announcement was made public after Alviti and Oliver informed their families.

Christian Jones on QB decision

At Big Ten Media Days, Pat Fitzgerald said that he would consult veteran players in deciding on his starting quarterback. Christian Jones said Friday that "they asked everybody."

"Anybody that needed an input had an input," Jones said. "I had no pick. Whatever they decide, whatever is best for us is who I'm going to go with."

Jones came to Northwestern in the same class as Oliver, and admitted that, "knowing a guy for that long, it's not easy" to see him lose the competition. "But it's what's best for the team."

Jones's health

Here's what Jones had to say on his recovery from knee surgery.

"It's a process. It takes time. I feel as close to 100 percent as I can. I'm working with the training staff to make sure that every gameday, I'm there 100 percent.

"I'm going to try to get in as many practices in as I can. With the graduate program, I'm going to miss some. This week, I miss, like, one. But I'm making sure I don't miss anything.

Jones also said he and the training staff are managing his knee in practice by limiting reps at times. "I go as many as I can," he said. "That's all I do, get as much as I can."