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Pinstripe Bowl press conference notes

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Pat Fitzgerald was ecstatic after his team emerged victorious from Yankee Stadium.

Will Ragatz

Pat Fitzgerald

  • “Between the last game last year and our bowl experience [the Outback Bowl], I think we lost our edge. I think we hardened our edge during our bowl prep [this year].”
  • Fitzgerald lauded Justin Jackson’s historic effort, complimented the defense and congratulated the seniors.
  • “I’d like to give a special shout-out to Danny Kanell and the ESPN crew that told us we’d just be ‘happy to be here’ and that our motivation would be low...I greatly appreciate the external motivation...cannot thank those three men enough.”
  • “Our plan was to be aggressive all game and the guys went out and executed very well.”
  • “I thought the officials were outstanding today, for a game that had a lot of craziness.”
  • “First of all from our seniors’ standpoint, I’m just very proud of those guys. We probably had more guys in street clothes than playing today...those guys have battled through injuries. I think they’ve been great Wildcat men. They’ve persevered through it. They’ve had to find their own ways and paths, because it’s difficult going through injury. I know that. I lived through it, missing a Rose Bowl.”
  • “I think for the future, hopefully this shows our guys just how hard it is to be a champion...I think the future’s very bright, we’re building that new facility...I’m excited about the future.”
  • “Coach Joe (Girardi) is amazing. He’s been incredibly gracious to myself and all our Northwestern football family. He’s been a great sounding board for me. There’s been a lot of times when I’ve asked him about leadership and how he handles things. To see the grace and humility he demonstrated on a daily basis is really inspiring as another leader. To have that type of support, he’s a family member-”
  • On the necessity of bowl games: “I think it would be a huge whole in the experience of college football players. I think every game is meaningful and I think think every game is significant.”
  • He mentioned that the night before, Austin Carr said “we live in a fantasy world” and that Fitzgerald was “all for” extending that college football experience for the players and coaches.
  • “Seemed like they were playing a lot of catch-man...seems like they were very aggressive against Austin today. I think we learned as a receiver corps as the game went along. That’s what we saw in [Narduzzi’s] scheme from Michigan State.”
  • Fitzgerald first thanked the Steinbrenners and the Yankees’ organization in the press conference.
  • “All the experiences here, every day, they were unbelievable. A lot of our guys had never been to New York City.”
  • “We’ve got a great lineage here at the superback position with Drake Dunsmore, Dan Vitale and Garrett Dickerson.”

Justin Jackson

  • On the more intense bowl prep: “I think the hard edge we got in the past three weeks helped us whether it was running five quarterback sneaks,
  • Justin Jackson, when asked about where he was playing football next year, in play format:

JJ: You know, you don’t come here and not get a degree, so I’ll leave it at that.

FITZ: He just asked you that? There’s no way. There’s no way. Your dad will kill you, man. I’m not dealing with that.

  • “Yeah man, it’s big city, big stage. We’ve been saying that all week. Wanted to prove we deserved to be here, we’re not just happy to be here, we’re just happy to win.”
  • When asked about whether he knew about nearing the Pinstripe Bowl rushing record: “No, we wanted to win the game.” (buries head in hands mid-sentence)
  • “You know, great players have gone through here. We were saying, you know, Derek Jeter peed in that urinal right there.”
  • Fitzgerald on Anthony Walker and Godwin Igwebuike considering the NFL Draft: “I think my role in that is critical from the point of gathering information. Last year those guys came in and I said based on the performances you’ve had, I think that it’s a good choice to enter the NFL Draft Evaluation. You get a choice on whether or not you want to come out or whether you want to come back. But let's go all in so we get a true evaluation.”
  • “We'll continue to work through that process. I think they'll make the best decision, first and foremost for themselves and for their families, and we'll be there to support them 100%. I think some people look at it as a negative. I think it's a complete total positive. My hope is to have 22 guys every year instead of two to get evaluated, right?”
  • “The head coach has a choice on whether he wants to talk about guys with two years remaining or not. I made it very clear that we were going to do this and I would gladly answer all questions about Godwin and Anthony.”
  • On the red zone stops: “They [Pittsburgh] were unbelievable on tape. Every time they were down there they just scored touchdowns.”

Kyle Quiero

  • On the defense stepping up: “Just to have some guys play in this big moment, experience some struggles and rebound from that which I think is the story of our whole team.”
  • On safety Jared McGee: “Jared was just reading the quarterback really well today. making breaks while we were playing man-to-man defense. That definitely gave us, the underneath guys, especially the freshmen as well, a sense of confidence that we can play aggressive on these guys.”

Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi

  • “We didn’t make a lot of the plays today, the plays we needed to. Didn’t tackle a very, very good tailback (Jackson).”
  • “So many points that we just left out there and they didn’t leave any out there. Just the little details that we didn’t finish up.”
  • “We’re never gonna be geared up to stop the pass. We’re going to be geared up to stop the run....They’ve done a great job running the ball...they’ve got a great scheme and we’re not good enough right now.”
  • Narduzzi bemoaned Northwestern converting all of its fourth down attempts: “Any time you give an offense four downs...well it almost should be illegal.”
  • “Conner got a hit the head...One of the defenders went for him I guess, instead of going for the ball. Kinda interesting.”
  • “We lost a lot of guys today. We had a lot of guys not finish that game today... It hurts when your seniors don’t finish the game.”
  • Narduzzi thanked the fans for showing up and providing the majority of the crowd noise.
  • Narduzzi was complimentary of his cornerback group and said it did a good job limiting Northwestern’s receivers. “We pressed up, really got on him [Thorson], forced him to go ahead and say they were going to throw fades. I think they threw only one all day.”
  • He blamed much of the Wildcats’ offensive success on failing to stop the run.
  • “James Conner, he is a legacy player at Pitt. He’s been an inspiration to everybody. He’s going to have a heckuva NFL career, I’ll tell you that.”
  • “You’re always looking to get better. You’re losing a great pass rusher in Warren Price. We got a lot of young secondary guys.