After a crushing and strangely-ending one-point loss to Western Michigan, Pat Fitzgerald and players met with the media.
Head coach Pat Fitzgerald
-On his team’s preparation: “It’s a disappointing outcome to the football game. I thought, from a camp standpoint, that we were prepared.”
-On the late fumble that resulted in a touchback: “They said it was a fumble that went into the end zone, and if the defensive player had possession, then it’s a touchback.”
-He added that fumbling in that situation is an absolute no-no.
-Fitzgerald said that the officials told him that when Davontae Ginwright possessed the ball in the end zone, it was a dead ball.
-Fitzgerald pointed to time of possession, play at the line of scrimmage and turnovers as the issue’s today, as well as their last four losses as a whole. “When we don’t finish, that’s on me as a coach...When you play as poorly as we did, the football gods go against you. We got what we deserved.”
-On the poor defensive play (416 total yards for Western Michigan): “I don’t think we fit things properly with the defensive ends and linebackers today...We got a long week ahead of us.”
-On the perception of the loss: “We have a lot of the season left. And there were signs of a very good football team today. I would remind fans that the sky is not falling. The sun will come up tomorrow, and we’ll go back to work.”
-He pointed to Stanford finishing strong after last year’s opening loss and Tennessee’s near-loss to Appalachian State. “I appreciate [fans’] disappointment, but it’s not even close to the disappointment and effort level of our players.”
-Fitzgerald said Warren Long, who missed most of the game, suffered a hand injury. He provided no further details.
-On the offense’s inability to extend possessions: “We want to be a no-huddle team. For us to run 53 plays and give up 84 plays tells you the issue.”
Linebacker Jaylen Prater and safety Godwin Igwebuike
-Prater pointed to the late fourth-and-one touchdown for Western Michigan, in which he missed a tackle: “I gotta make that tackle. I gotta make that play.”
-Igwebuike: “Last year, we started a little differently...Now, we’ll see how we respond to adversity. We have a lot of mature guys.”
-Prater: “They ran everything we expected. We just gotta go out and execute...I don’t think there was anything unexpected today.”
-Prater said he expects Northwestern to rebound and keep the energy up: “We’ll be fine.”
-Igwebuike said that Northwestern could’ve played faster and stronger: “We can’t let the offense run up our gut.”
Quarterback Clayton Thorson and running back Justin Jackson
-Thorson on the fumble: “I came around the edge and saw a lot of space...I gotta hold on to the ball. I can’t fumble on the one-yard line.”
-Jackson on starting the season with a loss, as opposed to last year: “We have to go in with a better attitude. We didn’t want to come in here with a loss, but we still have 11 more games.”
-Thorson said he thought the receivers and offensive line both did great jobs, but that Northwestern needs to finish drives better.
-Jackson on his 46-yard touchdown: “There were huge holes. So I just hit that.” He commended Garrett Dickerson’s outside block.
-Thorson: “They have the ball for almost 40 minutes, and we had it for 20...We gotta clear that up and realize we don’t get many opportunities.”