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Northwestern vs. Maryland Press Conference Notes

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It was a historic day, and a big win.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

COLLEGE PARK, MD. — The Northwestern Wildcats defeated the Maryland Terrapins 37-21 on Saturday afternoon at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium.

Clayton Thorson threw for 293 and a touchdown in the win while Justin Jackson — who became Northwestern all-time leading rusher with a four-yard run in the first quarter — posted 174 yards with two scores.

Here’s what coach Pat Fitzgerald, Thorson, Jackson and other players (plus Maryland coach DJ Durkin) had to say after the game:

Pat Fitzgerald

On the fan support away from Evanston: “I want to start off by thanking our great fans in the DMV (DC, Maryland and Virginia). When Maryland and Rutgers were added to the Big Ten, we talked about how important it was for our alums in the area to show support for us. They were awesome today.”

On the the offensive line’s strong day: “Great job bouncing back by our offense, especially our offensive line. To get Justin Jackson as the leading rusher in our program’s history, you need a good effort from the offensive line. They did a good job today.”

On what Jackson has meant to his team and the program: “At times, we take for granted special players. Incredibly proud of him and honored to be his coach and thankful for his production.”

On how well his defense handled the Maryland ground game: “Our guys executed and we fit things well. When you start getting some of those plays that they’re running, it’s almost an option without a switch. The Maryland offense gives you a lot of problems schematically and I thought Mike Hankwitz and our defensive staff came up with a good plan.”

On his team’s rough start: “We knew we were going to have to weather Maryland’s storm, and you knew that there was going to be a push in the first 10 minutes. It looked like the offensive line started to move, which helps things out.”

On Jackson’s recent resurgence: “About a week ago, he started to come around. He’s a great, the GOAT at running the ball in our program. Our offensive line takes a beating and they just produced the best runner in our team’s history.”

On Cameron Green’s big day (6 catches for 49 yards): “I’m really proud of Cam. He’s been through a lot in our program, and he’s grown up. That’s private between us and hopefully his confidence goes up because of it.”

On getting a road win: “It’s hard to win a Big Ten football game, and doubly hard to do it on the road so I give our guys a lot of credit.”

On his wide receivers playing well: “(Wide receivers coach) Dennis Springer did a great job this week. Our receivers were not pleased with their inability to make plays last week and I think the work they put in during the week showed.”

On the play of kicker Charlie Kuhbander (who was a perfect 6-for-6 between field goals and extra points): “I’ve got great confidence in Charlie. I don’t think he understands that he’s a freshman, in terms of his demeanor and personality.”

On bouncing back from the Wisconsin and Penn State losses: “We’ve played two top 10 teams the last two weeks, two top 10 defenses, and I think Clayton learned from those games and he’ll learn from this. There were some chances for him to run today that he didn’t take.”

Nate Hall

On how the gameplan to limit Maryland running backs Lorenzo Harrison and Ty Johnson worked: “We can take away the edge with our fundamental base defense, and we were able to shed our blocks and do what we gotta do.”

On the offense benefiting the defense: “It’s always fun to watch those guys perform well. Every time we go out there, we go out there with a purpose to stop the other team from scoring. In that regard, it’s fun to see Justin run well, it helps our energy.”

On the defense getting timely stops: “We had a good plan to stop them, had a good plan to stop them. The DBs did a great job of covering guys. We communicated well for the most part. Overall, we were solid on third downs.”

Brett Walsh

On what the Wildcats wanted to do against Maryland’s backs: “We wanted to eliminate the offensive runs, to get rid of that outside read.”

On the rushing success of the defensive line: “I think they did a great job of getting after the quarterback all game. Hats off to those guys.”

Clayton Thorson

On how well his receivers played: “They won on a lot of man coverage. Our coaches did a good job of calling the right plays on third downs.”

On what it means for the offense when Fitzgerald chooses to go for it: “We love when coach gives us four-down territory. We gotta pick those up and we love it.”

On staying on the field as an offense: “It helps when we sustain some drives. We should be in that 80-95 play range every week and we did a good job staying on track. That helps our defense a lot.”

On his pair of interceptions: “I just have to make a couple of better decisions.”

On bouncing back from early mistakes: “It’s the first quarter. If you let that affect you the rest of the game, you’re done.”

Brad North

On the offensive line changing its tune: “We met as a unit on Monday and said our attitude in the Penn State game and the second half of the Wisconsin game just wasn’t good enough.”

On keeping Jackson and Thorson upright: “This is my running back and my quarterback, and I don’t want them to be tackled by the bad guys. We just want to protect them.”

Justin Jackson

On his record: “I don’t know exactly when I broke it, but I was running behind these guys all guys and I was like, wow, what a response (with regards to the Penn State game).”

On how his offensive line factored into his breaking the record: “It means a ton, doing it with these guys around me. Brad’s been my center for three years, I can trust these guys and just go out there and play free and fast.”

On the slow start: “We didn’t start the way we wanted to but we just had guys that made some plays. When you’re down in the first quarter, it’s just the first quarter and you have to keep going.”

DJ Durkin

On Northwestern containing Maryland’s running game: “They were taking the running backs out of the game with what they were doing defensively. It’s similar to what they did a week ago. If you can do that in a game, you have to be able to throw the ball and execute. At times we did but we didn’t do it consistently. There were chances for some big plays with third downs that we didn’t convert.”