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Pat Fitzgerald and players Week 8 press conference notes

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They talk Michigan State, Indiana and so much more.

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Following an offensive explosion in the 54-40 win over Michigan State, Pat Fitzgerald and several players met with the media at their weekly press conference.

Pat Fitzgerald

  • Justin Jackson is the offensive player of the week. Big playmakers were Clayton Thorson and Austin Carr.
  • Joe Gaziano is the defensive player of the week, Ifeadi Odenigbo was the big playmaker.
  • Fitz noted that Solomon Vault was the Big Ten special teams player of the week but wanted to give the honor to the ten guys in front of him, saying Vault really only had to out-run one guy.
  • Erik Lutzen was the offensive practice player of the week, Travis Whillock on defense and Eric Eshoo on special teams.
  • Fitz is excited about returning home for homecoming and honoring the 20-year reunion of the 1996 team.
  • Fitz is “really impressed with the Hoosiers.” He pointed out their explosive offensive identity and the turnaround they’ve made on defense since recent years. Called this week’s matchup a huge challenge for the team.
  • When the WMU and Illinois State games were brought up, Fitz said "that team stunk. I think that team's dead."
  • “I have zero issues with our receivers right now, from a work ethic standpoint.”
  • “We’re six games in, we’re an average football team. That’s who we are.” Like last week, repeated that they have yet to play a complete 60-minute football game.
  • On Austin Carr: “We got him in some 1-on-1 situations and to his credit, he was able to win those matchups.” Credited the offensive line for giving Thorson time to let Carr’s route’s develop, and Thorson for having the pocket presence to let that happen.
  • Fitz noted that when Carr sees double teams, other receivers (esp. Nagel) have stepped up as options that can beat single coverage.
  • On Gaziano: “he was seven out of seven at the point of attack by the way we grade.” Noted that Gaziano earned defensive player throughout the game, not just on the sack, but did add that that play raised the energy level of the team and was a turning point.
  • On J.B. Butler: “he’s been a high energy player since day one.” Said Butler has worked hard in practice to be prepared to take snaps at both guard and center.
  • On improvements: “We were so inconsistent, we needed to have much greater attention to detail. That was my challenge to the coaches. We’re embracing that improvement mentality. You are who you are, whether you look in the mirror and say ‘wow you’re hot,’ or ‘wow, you’re really ugly’ and you have to find a way to win games.”
  • On the secondary: “we’ve gotta fix it.” Said other than the tipped ball by Igwebuike, all of Michigan State’s deep completions were unacceptable.

Offense: Andrew Scanlan, Eric Olson

  • Scanlan on his nickname, ‘The Bull’: “Coach Fitz loves it. I can’t complain. I lot of people say I have a tenacious, grumpy attitude. It reflects me a little bit. I like to be known as a physical guy.”
  • Olson on going on the road: “Coach Fitz always says, 70 vs. 70,000,” Both guys mentioned getting confidence boosts from Big Ten road wins.
  • Olson on improvements: “We put our heads down, kept working.” Said up front, he and Mahoney motivated the unit to keep pushing and they’ve seen improvement starting in the Duke game.
  • Olson on Scanlan’s pregame speeches: “He’s a genuine, passionate guy. He wants to win more than anyone.”
  • Scanlan said there was some question about whether or not he would come back for his fifth year, but wanted to lead the unit and get better and is extremely glad he came back.
  • Olson: “J.B. (Butler) works his butt off, we really trust him on the line. He really deserves this.”
  • Olson talked about the importance of having balance on offense, said it makes the line’s job that much easier.

Defense: CJ Robbins, Jared McGee

  • McGee posted an Instagram before the game thanking God for the interception, says he got the idea from Igwebuike. Northwestern safeties are now 2-for-2 on predictive social media posts for interceptions.
  • McGee praised Igwebuike’s leadership in a young secondary group.
  • McGee on Carr: “You’re playing against the best receiver in the conference on a day to day basis so when you get to the games, you’re like “okay, we’ve seen the best.” Robbins said pretty much the same thing about practicing against Jackson.
  • Robbins on the defense: “We’ve meshed together a lot more. Our communication is better.”
  • Robbins on Gaziano: “he definitely gave the whole team a spark. He’s really stepped up, I’m really proud of how he’s come into his own.”
  • McGee agreed with Fitz that the long passes by Michigan State were due to a lack of communication, said they’ll work hard on that in practice this week.