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Monday Press Conference Notes: Pat Fitzgerald and players

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Pat Fitzgerald and four of his players addressed the media two days after their blowout loss to Duke.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Media Days Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Fitzgerald

In an aside before he got to the podium: “Stats are for losers.”

On Duke: “I thought we came with the right mindset, started the right way, we had the chance to seize some momentum, but then had the targeting call which was a big swing in the first half. Then we got the momentum back going into halftime, got the big stop, not to seize that right there in the third quarter really was a turning point in the game.”

On the barrier-breaking Bowling Green broadcast team: “I’m really excited for Lisa Byington. We were classmates here at Northwestern, and it’ll be a historic game for her and a historic game for the BTN.”

On Bowling Green: “They have a similar scheme to ones we’ve struggled with over the last two weeks, so we are going to struggle with that if we don’t coach better.”

“We’ve gotta play better, we’ve obviously gotta coach better, and that gets rocking and rolling here tomorrow with practice.”

On struggles in the run game: “We had a couple of opportunities there where we were trying to do too much...When you look at where some seams were early, we missed some...we’re really close, and that’s with 9 guys in the box. We’ve gotta be able to win one-on-one battles on the outside. We went 0-fer on Saturday pretty much.”

More on the run game: “We’ve gotta get our run game going regardless of who’s running the ball. Our backs have been able to make guys miss and turn negative plays into short gains...we just haven't gotten [the running game] going yet. But I think we’re really close.”

On Trae Williams: “We had hoped that we wouldn’t have to [play him]...he was prepared mentally and took reps during practice but as a coaching staff we wanted him not to play. That obviously changed very quickly...he knew he was going to be targeted and will be again on Saturday, but he’s a tough guy.”

On the team’s attitude: “Any time you get your fanny whipped you’ve gotta look yourself in the mirror first...There were ample opportunities for us to win that game on Saturday, even though it got a little bit away from us in the end.”

On the connection to last year’s slow start: “This year has nothing to do with last year. It’s a totally different group of guys.”

On the leadership on this year’s team: “Each team is different. The leadership in this group has been solid. There was the really tough play where there was the interception, where Clayton gets the pick and it wasn’t his fault. And a lesser man would have started ripping his receivers, but [Clayton] went over and told the receiver how to run the route properly and how they can build trust.”

On his own comments on being out-coached: “I’m going to be out-coached. It happens. It’s happened to me. How many games have I lost? Too many. [I]’ve gotta do a better job. That’s how you stop it from happening.”

On Paddy Fisher’s record-setting performance: “I think Paddy’s a really good football player. I thought he was active on Saturday, physical at the point of attack. He’s got a few things he’s gotta clean up but he’s only started two games and he’ll learn from that.”

Tyler Lancaster, Hunter Niswander, Riley Lees, Kyle Queiro

Lancaster on Duke: “We started out well, had a lot of energy. But what it comes down to is getting off the field. I think if we do that it changes the game.”

Queiro on how the injuries affected the team: “We had a lot of young guys play for sure...We were kinda just trying to settle ourselves in, had guys who had been on the field on before except for JR Pace, but ultimately it was just realizing that we’ve been in this situation before.”

Queiro on the importance of turnovers: “I think that’s going to be a point of emphasis in every game. One of the easiest correlations for victory is margin of turnovers. Obviously we want it positive. With that, they’re going to be taking shots down the field, the ball’s going to be in the air...we’re going to have plenty of opportunities to make plays on the ball.”

Lancaster on the weak pass rush: “The stats don’t look good in that area. A lot of it comes on run-pass options or play-action pass. We need to fix that obviously. We need to find more opportunities inside.”

Lees on offensive struggles: “We just didn’t execute when we needed to on third down and first and second down for that matter, and that ultimately ended up with the defense on the field for most of the plays...We just need to execute when it’s our opportunity, especially at the receiver position. [When] we get man coverage we need to get open and give Clayton a shot to get us the ball.”

Queiro on the team’s state of mind: “I think that we’re in a state of heightened urgency. Many teams that could be put in this position are probably in a state of panic, but for us, it’s just do what we do better. And work harder. This is going to really be a testament to the type of football team we are, with this opportunity to respond.”

Niswander on his kicking game success: “I think it’s just the work I put in in the offseason...Tyler [Gillikin, the redshirt freshman long snapper]’s done a great job of getting the ball back there, and Kyle and all the other guys are doing a great job of covering.”

Also, we were unable to get out postgame press conference notes due to a lack of WiFi in the Duke press conference room. If you are curious about the immediate reaction to the loss, here are all of Fitz’s comments from Saturday.

And here is a shorter video with a few comments from players as well.