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Notre Dame gameweek press conference notes

There’s a lot of excitement about the uniqueness of the week.

J.B. Butler and Travis Whillock joined Pat Fitzgerald to discuss the upcoming week. Here’s what they had to say:

Pat Fitzgerald

-Opened by highlighting Isaiah Bowser as the offensive player of the game, Montre Hartage on the defensive side of the ball. Joe Bergin and Cam Ruiz were acknowledged on special teams. Ray Niro and Devin O’Rourke were highlighted for their efforts in practice this past week.

-On his thoughts for Notre Dame: “I’m excited for our practice tomorrow, I’m worried about us getting better. They have an outstanding team, great quarterback, skill at every position. I’m just totally playing with you guys just to have fun.”

-On Thorson: “Two of the three interceptions, first one he tried to put in too small of a window. Second one I would’ve liked to see Cam to go up and fight for the ball. We’re playing an outstanding football team this week, so the motivation to get better will be there.”

-On the challenges of facing ND: “Their front is outstanding, talented, and well coordinated. We saw this with Michigan, just a dominant defensive front. A very talented defense and they have some outstanding coaches.”

-On his memories of facing Notre Dame: “I’m worried about practice tomorrow, most of these guys don’t care about what we’ve done in the past.”

-On the challenges of having a non-conference game in season: “We have to get better, we’re not where we want to be as a football team. Our younger players need to keep developing, our veterans need to improve. We really need to get better and focus on ourselves. We do the same thing every week, focus on us and try to get better. In my time here this is one of the most unique opportunities that we’ve had. I don’t know how often this happens outside of the conference. It’s pretty rare. We got nothing to lose so our guys are going to prepare really well. I have a ton of respect for BK [Brian Kelly].”

-On the running back position: “When we started the season we thought it was a position of strength. All of a sudden everything changes, so whatever plan we had preseason changes. That position is kind of like our team. There’s been some really awesome games and production, the way we’re kind of used to out here, and there’s been some games where you ask, what was that? So we’ll just try to get better.”

-On saying “I came to Northwestern to beat Notre Dame” in 1995: “You can probably look up the article and get the quotes, I don’t remember.”

-On Nate Hall: “Having him back is huge, I was just so happy for him he got a big fumble recovery. Especially for our seniors, you hope to be in November playing significant games. For our seniors we go into the last month with significant games ahead of us. I hope Nate can play his best football because he’s worked so hard.”

-On using a downhill running scheme: “We’re gonna run the veer option this week. I’m not going to talk about gameplan stuff, never have never will. You gotta adopt and adjust your gameplan.”

-On Bowser’s style of play: “He’s developing a lot of confidence, his opportunity has gotten bigger. Thinking he might redshirt, all of a sudden he’s thinking I’m the guy. Obviously all three of those guys have been working incredibly hard to help our team. Drake is busting his rear end and I’m so proud of Chad. He was wide open on that fourth down play if Clayton could’ve found him.”

-On the kicking game: “I saw Drew today, asked him how he’s doing, he was smiling as usual. Charlie’s pads are here so that’s great. His range would’ve probably been 45, his leg isn’t the problem from the standpoint of distance, Coaching a team man, it’s crazy. Four to go, maybe he’ll bring his shoes to Ryan Field on Saturday.”

-On the impact of Ryan Fieldhouse: “Either you have facilities or you don’t in recruiting. We were probably behind in our old facilities. It’s not like you build a facility and you’re going to get people. You have to fit what they’re looking for, but nothing happens magically. You have to have the right mindset within the program, players are being developed holistically. We’re very thankful and very grateful, it’s second to none.”

J.B. Butler

-On Fitz’s comment that there is nothing to lose: “I think Fitz is right on that. But on the other hand we have a great chance to showcase our program on a national stage. I think it’s something that we’ll stress all week. You can play loose and have fun but we still wanna go out there and play well. It’s a cool deal for us and we’re really excited.”

-On the downhill run scheme: “The stuff we ran the past couple weeks is base stuff that we’ve run from day one. It’s a lot more fun to run downhill, one on one, man versus man, it’s fun for us to hit one guy and keep the chains moving, keep the other offense off the field.”

-On Notre Dame’s front: “They’re long and athletic, we need to improve the most as a unit to get where we want to be. I think we match up well, we’ve got guys that play strong and physical. They might have had more stars coming out of high school, but that doesn’t matter anymore, and they play like that so we respect them, but we play hard too. Strength versus strength in that category.”

-On his memories of the 2014 win: “It was so cool. The atmosphere was awesome. Any time we get a chance to play a nationally ranked team in primetime you’re going to get up for it. So we’re excited.”

-On the development of the line: “We played really well against Purdue in the beginning of the year. Obviously we did start slow because we started 1-3, but it’s all about consistency. When we’re playing well it’s because we’re playing consistent football. When we control the ball, control the clock, and play our style, that’s when we’re at our best.”

-On the short-yardage situations against Wisconsin: “I think we sneaked it five times, you’ve got 22 guys in the box. It’s the running joke about Big Ten football, but we need to create a better surge on some of those. There’s no technique coaching, it’s just man on man, who wants to win?”

-On the benefits of having competitive depth in the line: “There’s no pressure. It’s more you have a fire under your butt because you know you have to play well, when you’re competing Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, you have to approach every practice like a gameday.”

-On if he grew up wanting to play for Notre Dame: “No, definitely not. There’s nothing in my heart for them anymore. I’m really happy with the choice I made. [I love] everything here. The guys, the locker room, doesn’t matter if we’re lifting weights or we’re on the beach, the transparency of the coaches, it’s really unique, I love it.”

Travis Whillock

-On how it feels to get in the game and make plays: “It’s awesome to be able to go out there and help the team, it always feels good.”

-On Ian Book: “I think they’re a great team but we’re more so focused on ourselves, how we can go 1-0 every week. That’s what is important to us. We just gotta keep improving, just gotta play as one, play unified.”

-On the opportunity this week brings: “I think it’s really exciting, it’s a chance for us to show who we are as a program, we’re really looking forward to the matchup. I know recently we’ve had some close battles with them so we’re looking forward to getting to work.”

-On coming to NU with Paddy Fisher: “We grew up together since we were five, it’s really cool for me. What brought me here was the culture, great support staff from top to bottom. I’m just very happy with my decision.”

-On his injury history: “My redshirt freshman year I missed with a hamstring injury. Summer before this season I had some problems with my other hamstring. Now I just want to put that behind me and show the coaches I can contribute to the team. But it made me stronger as a person, knowing I can get through hardships.”