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Northwestern vs Minnesota press conference notes

Pat Fitzgerald and his seniors took to the podium after the Wildcats demolished the Golden Gophers.

Pat Fitzgerald

  • “Thanks to everybody for being here on such a beautiful Chicago day...and thanks to all of our fans, especially our students, who came out today. You’re a true Wildcat if you were at this one.”
  • “We knew today would be a tough guy day, a Chicago, blue-collar day.”
  • “I’m incredibly proud of our guys, especially our seniors, on a dominant, dominant performance.”
  • On Justin Jackson: “You think about his career, and all the milestones he set today...he’s put himself into a rare position with his career. He’s a one-in-a-coaching-lifetime type of man.”
  • On the continuation of the winning streak: “The last two games we’ve been playing against teams fighting for bowl eligibility, and you know you’re going to get their best shot.”
  • On the weather: “If you ask our coaches I’m a freak about it. I check it when I get up in the morning before I brush my teeth, after lunch....just want to give our guys their best chance.”
  • On practice this week in tough conditions: “If we had played Wednesday we would have put up 80.”
  • On the offensive line’s progress: “I think they’ve worked really hard, I think they’ve improved, gotten better...there was a tough one down in Durham and a couple of bad quarters against Wisconsin, but outside of that those guys have fought hard and improved every game.”
  • Back to Jackson: “You just run out of superlatives for Justin.”
  • On the defense: “We’ve been really solid all year playing team defense...It starts up front. That defensive line has been our top unit all year. Tyler Lancaster’s performances have been incredible. I think Marty Long has done a great jo with those guys.”
  • On the 4th quarter rotations: “I was working as hard as I could to get everyone who was eligible to play in.”
  • On the strength coaches: “That’s our secret sauce. We’ve set 30+ personal records in the weight room this week. That group is our secret sauce, they’re the best in the country.”
  • On Nate Hall: “He’s been outstanding all year. He’s had a great season. I think that group of 3 has been as solid this year as anyone we’ve had.”
  • Back to his weather obsession: “I’m a big Skilling fan, I always have been...I’m just a guy, I keep it pretty simple. It’s been pretty accurate.”
  • On whether he was considering a short-sleeve shirt: “Yeah, no. No, I was plenty warm. I learned from the best in Randy [Walker]...he used to have 17 layers on, ziplock bags around his feet.”
  • More on game day apparel, this time after Jim Phillips was referenced as not wearing a jacket: “Tough-guy day. I’m not All-Madden, I’m not trying to be a tough guy. I’m trying to be a warm guy.”
  • On his two point conversion decisions: “I'm not just playing tiddlywinks, it's not just rock paper scissors go for two...we have two point conversion sheets and stuff like that. It’s all about that.”

Brad North, Clayton Thorson, Montre Hartage, Garrett Dickerson

  • North on Fitz saying they were going to stop throwing the ball: “This is actually the first I’m hearing of this, but it’s obviously a lot of fun to run the ball. I like to run the ball, to maul guys in front of us, so I’m glad we got to do it today.”
  • Thorson on Jackson’s success: “It’s great. Takes a lot of pressure off the passing game, when him and Jeremy and all of those other guys do a great job of running the ball.”
  • More Thorson on Jackson: “A lot of teams tried to take him away this year, but he just went over 1,000 yards. You can’t stop a guy like that.”
  • Dickerson on his touchdowns: “It was exciting. I definitely had a lot of fun out there. We knew we were going to run the ball a lot, and fortunately that set some things up for me in the passing game.”
  • Hartage on his interception and fumble recovery: “It was a great game, great team win. I wasn’t really thinking about statistics after those turnovers, but it was a great team win. The guys up front did a great job, and coach made a great call on that Third and 5. That’s what created those big plays.”
  • Hartage on the mindset of the secondary: “We knew they were going to run the ball, but we still knew that as a secondary we couldn’t get lax. We had to stay focused.”
  • Dickerson on whether he liked a pancake block or a touchdown reception more in a game like today’s: “I’d say a pancake block, because we knew we were going to run the ball and needed to hone that in. Getting a big block and springing Justin or anyone else for a big gain was satisfying.”
  • North before answering a question: “I just want to give a shoutout to women’s soccer for making a good run in the tournament and having a phenomenal season, and to Lauren Clem for a phenomenal career.”
  • More North, on the offensive line’s improvement: “We put up about 266 yards rushing, and I don’t know if that’s a season high but it definitely shows all the work we’ve put in.”

Justin Jackson, Godwin Igwebuike, Nate Hall

  • Jackson on his record-breaking performance: “I had a general idea of where I was, but we knew what the general conditions were gonna be and that we had to run the ball to win. I just want to give credit to the o-line for pounding it in the trenches.”
  • Jackson on going out with a home win: “I definitely think a lot of us were happy with the way it ended, with a nice win. Kind of like a grade school game, with not a lot of people here, but we just came out with energy and got the win.”
  • Igwebuike on Kyle Queiro: “Speaking on Kyle, he’s improved so much during that season. We’ve been a great tandem, and it’s definitely been a lot of fun playing with that boy.”
  • Hall on his big game: “We had a lot of fun, and those stats are a credit to the guys up front. They did an incredible job of controlling gaps so that me, Brett [Walsh], Paddy [Fisher], and Blake Gallagher could flow to the ball.”
  • Igwebuike on the winning streak: “Our motto is to go 1-0 every week, but you obviously feel that 5-game win streak, that 6-game win streak. It just makes things a lot more fun. It’s been pretty cool to be a part of a streak like that...we’re gonna roll with it.”
  • Igwebuike on the weather: “A lot of those boys from down south, they struggle a little more. I know some of those Georgia boys were pretty cold today...I remember my freshman year against Michigan State, that was the coldest I’ve ever been. But this was the coldest since then.”