Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald held his first gameweek press conference of the 2015 season Monday as the Wildcats prepare for Stanford. More than ever before, it seemed as if he was attempting to maintain some semblence of secrecy heading into the season opener. On four or five occasions, he answered a question with the phrase, "we'll see how it plays out."
Here's what Fitzgerald, along with select offensive and defensive players, did say though:
Video of Fitzgerald's press conference is at the bottom of the page, but can also be found here.
- Greg Kuhar was not listed on Northwestern's official two-deep depth chart for week 1. Fitzgerald said he is "doubtful" for the Stanford game despite being in full pads at practice Monday.
- Fitzgerald: "I don't want Clayton [Thorson, who was named NU's starting QB] to think he's got to outplay their quarterback [Kevin Hogan]. That's going to be hard for him to do."
- Fitzgerald mentioned running back/all-purpose playmaker Christian McCaffrey and Stanford's tight ends as guys Northwestern needs to be aware of defensively.
- Fitzgerald called Stanford one of the top defensive teams in the country. "I know a lot of people have talked about how they've graduated a lot of guys," he said, "but they've got a lot of talented players that were in rotational roles last year... we're going to have our hands full."
Fitz on projected high temperatures for Saturday's game: "We're going to have to have a great hydration plan…and not be overrun by the heat"— Sam Brief (@sambrief) August 31, 2015
- Fitzgerald on why he made the quarterback decision when he did: "At the end of the day, I don't think there was a huge advantage [to not making a public announcement.] With all the social media stuff right now, I'm sure somebody would've been looking over the fence, taking pictures of who's quarterbacking first if I didn't announce it."
- Fitzgerald referred to Thorson as "unflappable."
- Thorson was extremely comfortable in front of the media during his first gameweek press conference. In general, he's a very personable guy.
- Thorson: "Every player has butterflies going into a game. But I'm just approaching it like any other game. I've got things I've got to think about, reads I've got to think about, and I'll just be envisioning, play by play, what Stanford is going to do and what we're going to do to combat that.
Thorson was asked how he’s going to sleep the night before the Stanford game. His answer: "I’m going to put my head on my pillow…"— Inside NU (@insidenu) August 31, 2015
- Thorson on the moment Fitzgerald named him the starter: "We were all sitting in their room, and he told us. Obviously feel for the other guys, they're my friends, but at the same time, I was determined to go. I knew it was my time to be the quarterback."
- Thorson: "Bad plays are going to happen on Saturday. I'm going to mess up. But you've got to go to the next play."
- Fitzgerald on special teams issues: "We've got to cover our kicks better, and our kickers have got to give us a chance to do that. We've got to punt it better. Our average has been down the past two years, and it's really hurt." Fitzgerald said Hunter Niswander has been good in practice, it's just a matter of that carrying over to games.
Fitz calls last year a "joke" in terms of how injuries derailed his team's reps during training camp.— Sam Brief (@sambrief) August 31, 2015
- Fitzgerald said Mike McHugh is fine health-wise despite not being listed on the two-deep.
- Video of the press conference featuring Justin Jackson, Dan Vitale, Clayton Thorson, Nick VanHoose, Deonte Gibson and Traveon Henry can be found here.
- Jackson, jokingly, when asked if he's okay with other running backs like Warren Long, Auston Anderson and Solomon Vault rotating in: "No, not at all."
- Jackson said Northwestern will mix in "some two-back stuff" and use the depth at running back.
- Jackson noted that he and Thorson played against each other in both football and basketball prior to coming to Northwestern, and even played basketball together on the same team as well. Now, they'll be sharing a backfield.
Dan Vitale says sometimes when he lines up and his brother is on defense opposite him, "it’s like looking in the mirror"— Inside NU (@insidenu) August 31, 2015
- Henry says he weighed 225 pounds at the end of last season, but his main focus of the offseason was to slim down. He worked with Northwestern's sports dietician Katie Knappenberger, and is now down to 213 pounds.
- Henry said the Stanford game is one that a lot of guys circled when they chose to come to Northwestern as one to look forward to.
Henry just used the word "swaggerful"— Inside NU (@insidenu) August 31, 2015
- Former Northwestern linebacker and NFL veteran Nick Roach will be the Wildcats' honorary captain on Saturday.