Pat Fitzgerald met the media Monday ahead of Northwestern's Big Ten opener against Minnesota. Here's what he had to say:
(All video interviews are courtesy of Northwestern Athletics)
- Northwestern released it's Week 5 depth chart prior to the press conference, but it wasn't really updated. For example, Kyle Queiro was listed on the depth chart, but Queiro is out for a while with a broken arm.
- Fitzgerald (kind of) gave a few injury updates. Geoff Mogus was carted off the field Saturday, and, "As we start the week," Fitzgerald said, "Geoff will be out." When asked whether that means Mogus will be out for Saturday, he said, "he's out today."
- Fitzgerald said Godwin Igwebuike is "day-to-day."
- Fitzgerald said the defense's first half struggles against the run didn't have to do with any individual player or the multiple injuries the team suffered. He seemed to think there were only two or three plays that went for big gains, and other than that, there were no major problems. He also liked the way his defense defended the read option despite Riley Neal running for 74 yards on 16 carries.
- Fitzgerald said he "doesn't see a large shift in scheme from Minnesota last year to this year."
- Fitzgerald said the third quarter Saturday was a "snapshot of what [Clayton Thorson] is capable of."
- "But," Fitzgerald said, "beyond all the other things, he's got to take care of the football."
- When asked whether Saturday was Thorson's best over performance yet, Fitzgerald responded with a "no," but, it seemed, only because he doesn't "think he's had a great performance yet."
- Fitzgerald said that part of the reason he was aggressive at the end of the first half was that his offense hasn't been in a two-minute drill situation yet. He admitted he may have been a bit too aggressive though.
- Fitzgerald said he and his staff were going to have to find a way to lighten Justin Jackson's workload. Jackson carried the ball 33 times against Ball State after carrying it 35 times the week before against Duke.
- Fitzgerald: "If we do what we did in the first half this Saturday every Saturday moving forward in Big Ten play, we'll get embarrassed."
- Fitzgerald is impressed with both of Minnesota's running backs, Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks. Brooks did not play in the first three games of the season, but last week against Ohio had 10 carries for 82 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 40-yarder.
- Fitzgerald on comparisons between Ball State's offense and Minnesota's: "Minnesota's got an element [of the read option. They haven't majored in it — that was what Ball State was going to do, that's their identity — but from Minnesota's standpoint, that's part of their offense; it's not the entirety... Minnesota is a little more traditional... probably similar to what we saw against Duke."