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Northwestern-Wisconsin postgame press conference notes

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Hear what Fitz and the players had to say after a big win.

Davis Rich/InsideNU

Pat Fitzgerald

-On Wisconsin’s run game: I think we hit the gaps properly, tackled fairly well in the secondary, the safeties and the corners showed up. We had a lead and it forced them to throw the ball, really helped us.

-On Wisconsin not having QB Alex Hornibook: He’s a great player and a great kid, you hate to not see anyone play, it’s really tough, I appreciate the media letting us know on Thursday, two thumbs up. They still ran the same formations, I thought their two other kids came in and battled but our defense played really well today.

-On Wisconsin’s Offensive Line: They’re just massive humans, first of all. Really strong, fundamentally sound, it’s like a concert pianist. They play great team offensive line football. Great job by our D-line today, most of their yards were on draws, to hold JT [Jonathan Taylor] to 46 yards that’s a big accomplishment.

-On the run game: I think the young backs are getting better, Chad has been able to step up and provide leadership. He’s got a vital role in what we’re doing. We went with kinda a similar plan with what we did last week, Isaiah did well again, carry the hot hand.

-On how he feels about the team: I’ll worry about that tomorrow if that’s okay. We’re starting to improve, starting to grow up. Our guys have stayed the course and they’re getting rewarded for that effort, getting return on investment.

-On the difficulties of improving mid-season: Control the controllables. I’ve been doing this a long time. I don’t care what anyone says about me. My job is to develop the football team. This year we just didn’t have the consistency in the beginning, now the depth is starting to improve. I’m really proud of some of our older guys, JB Butler, had a bit of a funk and now he’s getting out of it. Clay came out and responded today. We’re getting better and that’s what matters.

-On Montre Hartage: I think those 13 scouts were here to watch him today too. His twitter handle is what, on an island? That’s his attitude, he’s been playing outstanding football.

-On the kicking game: Drew had a lower body issue that popped up 25 minutes before the game. Kuhbander’s pads were at the Walter Athletics Center, our staff had to run over and get them, so all of a sudden Jake Collins is kicking off and Kuhbander is kicking extra points. So that was fun.

-On Thorson’s interceptions: That’s our fault as coaches, he went to the check that we had been talking about going to all week. That’s on us, we have to make sure that our communication is there. I probably should have taken a timeout, it’s supposed to be a running play.

-On Bowser: We’ll see how the week progresses, you never know, I can’t crystal ball. He’s earning it, and he played very well. So we’ll see how things progress.

-On having Notre Dame next week: It’s really difficult to schedule games, it only fell for us in this window this year, and from a standpoint of our football team I think we’re an improving squad and our focus is on us. This week the focus will be on the other team. We’ll get ready to play and see what we can do.

-On the importance of forcing fumbles: Turnovers are key, one of the things I talked to the staff about is that it was evident this was going to be a turnover weekend. Ton of turnovers yesterday and on Thursday. That play that Paddy Fisher made was awesome, and then throwing it up, that was interesting. But hey, so be it.

-On Thorson’s health: Yeah two of those plays, two big scrambles. A year ago when we got to third and 7 plus, the Badgers had a party in our backfield, and to see the way our O-line protected today it was very encouraging.

Paddy Fisher

On his pitch: Yeah, went and punched it, as I was coming up momentum kind of hit it, but oh well it worked out. I’m kind of allergic to making plays.

-On stopping Taylor: Our mindset every week stays the same, stop the run. No matter who it is it always stays the same.

-On getting Hall back: It helps a lot, Chris was making plays, but getting Nate back always helps with chemistry, leadership, stuff like that.

-On recovering from a 1-3 start: Our mindset was just keep grinding and keep working. We weren’t going to stop what we were doing. We just kept on working hard and we did what we had to do. We weren’t too worried, we tucked our chin and went to work every day. No one did anything that would hurt our team. And we put ourselves in this position now.

-On Notre Dame: It’s going to be a great opportunity to highlight our program, in our house, they’re a great football team.

-On the field storming: It was cool, I’m not going to discredit our fans. I didn’t really expect it but it was cool. The MSU one last year was a little better, but I won’t discredit the fans, it was fun.

-On the game plan: For sure, we wanted to keep them in front of us, out-physical them and outplay them, that emphasis showed up today.

Montre Hartage

-On NFL scouts in attendance: I try to come to work every day, I have great teammates, over the last few weeks we’ve been able to do our job, win on every route.

-On the difficulty of improving mid-season: We just gotta be persistent. Guys are always hungry, we’re able to compete with any team, I think what Fitz preaches, honing in on concepts, I think guys take it personally to come out and work every week.

-On the depth of the defense: Just guys like Chris Bergin came in and he sparked the defense. Guys like Cam Ruiz, I think with the younger guys stepping in and feeding off of us we’re able to get the job done.

-On forcing Wisconsin to throw the ball: You know they’re going to try and pound it and pound it. We came out and imposed our will today.

-On the team’s discipline: Yeah, we focus on technique, things that help us get in the right position to succeed. Each route, in the weight room, with footwork, press situations, the coaches have been able to put us in the right place to succeed.

-On Sherrick McManis: Super hard working guy, he’s done a great job of playing defense, playing special teams. He’s always in the right position to make a play. Having role models like Sherrick, it shows me that I can be in his shoes one day.

-On Notre Dame: I think guys know what’s at stake. It’s a really big game, we just gotta take it one game at a time. Going through our studies and at the end of the day whatever is said and done will be.

Isaiah Bowser

-On the number of carries today: In high school I think I had 45 one game. It’s happened before.

-On his workload today: I knew I was going to get the ball but not that much.

-On having his family and old coaches at the game: It means a lot to me, to have them here it’s really special. They’ll probably tell me that they taught me what I did today.

-On Notre Dame: Somebody has to beat them so it might as well be us.

-On what he was told mid-season: I mean you know the older guys are always getting on us, if you see the games that we lost, we’re a good team, just have to work hard and keep our heads down. We had a meeting after that start, we had to do some things better and that’s been the message. Knowing that the guy next to you has your back, playing up to our potential, and we have to continue that next week.

-On his running style: Coaches always get on me about running hard. I try to move piles, pick up extra yards. I’d much rather run free but if I have to run someone over I will.

Clayton Thorson

-On the third interception: They gave us a certain look so we changed the play and he made a good play on it.

-On Notre Dame Quarterback coach Tommy Rees: He’s a real good coach, you see their QB playing well and he’s a big reason why. He’s a great guy. He always had attention to details, pay attention to everything.

-On the difference from the start of the season to now: We’ve stayed together. We knew what we had to do to get the season right, we’ve worked really hard and it showed today.

-On QB sneak struggles: They got some big guys on the goal line, they did a great job of plugging holes. Great stop by them, but we have to find a way to get the yard.

-On his runs: On the touchdown run they had great coverage, saw a lane and made a guy miss. Our O-line did a great job. The other one, everything was covered up, saw a huge lane and it was a good play. It felt good, I had negative rushing yards on the year, had to make a dent in that, the knee is feeling great.

-On Bowser: He’s playing great, he’s running really hard. We have to continue to get him the ball.

-On the offense’s performance: I think our offense did a great job this week. We came in every day and worked hard. The energy really picked up. A lot of passion this week. It’s a credit to the guys up front.

-On his playing level right now: Think I played well, when we convert 8/17 third downs that’s huge for us. I think we’re playing well.

-On Hartage: He’s a really good player, we call him ‘Strap’ and that’s what he did today. He’s played that way the last three years. He deserves all the praise that he gets.

-On the importance of pulling away today: Around here we’re called the Cardiac ‘Cats, so it was good to get a win like this today.