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Big Ten West Champions Press Conference Notes

Folks, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Northwestern won the Big Ten West.

Pat Fitzgerald

  • “We knew this was going to be a hard-fought battle against a top run defense. Credit the offensive line, and Isaiah being a workhorse, getting the tough, gritty yards.”
  • “This was just a Big Ten brawl.” Credits Ferentz and his staff.
  • Gives the equipment staff for being ready with the hats.
  • “We got beat up. Had a bunch of injuries, lost some tough games there. But if there’s one thing I can say about this team, it’s that the brotherhood in the locker room is unbelievable.”
  • “And we’re bowl-eligible, so that’s cool.”
  • On Skowrownek: “First of all, it was a ridiculous catch. I don’t know how he caught the ball.”
  • Says Thorson was resilient, and that the interceptions both were not entirely his fault.
  • On Bowser: “Hostile environment, 5th ranked rushing defense in the country...thought we had some good diversity in what we were trying to accomplish up there. IB is just a workhorse.”
  • On Chad’s 3rd and 9 pickup: “Give ‘em what the people want. The people want more Hanaoka.”
  • On what sets this group apart: “Their ability to overcome adversity and the brotherhood, that’s the glue that holds us together....Nobody is more frustrated when we don’t have success than us. Nobody. And that’s because of how hard these guys work.”
  • “I didn’t hide the opportunity this week. ‘If some things break our way, we’re gonna be putting a trophy in that case. Are you ready for that?’ And they went, ‘Yeah!’ You can’t not tell them, because then they’re going on Twitter and Snapchat...”
  • On telling the team they had won the West: “It was really emotional...there’s just something about this brotherhood that’s special. And as Hawk Harrelson says, ‘Don’t stop now boys!’”
  • On the secondary’s success: “We had three of our four starters down. Four now? It’s pretty crazy.” Credits Matt McPherson.

Isaiah Bowser, Bennett Skowrownek

  • Skowrownek on The Catch: “That play’s not really designed to go to me, but as Coach Springer says, ‘Run every route like you’re gonna get the ball.’ Saw Clayton throw it, go up and make a play on the ball.”
  • Skowrownek: “I don’t want it to be remembered as my play, I want it to be remembered as a great team win. Because it was.”
  • Skowrownek: “I knew I caught it and controlled it through the catch, but whenever it goes to replay you’re a little worried.”
  • Bowser, tearing up a little bit, on winning the West: “it’s a dream come true.” Skowrownek: “It’s what I came here for.”
  • Bowser on his touchdown: “The line blocked that perfectly. I don’t think I got touched that play. Just read the D-end and cut off of him.”
  • Skowrownek on halftime adjustments: “It was just a fight. It’s a Big Ten battle, it’s a heavyweight fight.”
  • Bowser on halftime adjustments: “We ran the ball decently in the first half, so they just told us to keep doing what we’re doing.”
  • Skowrownek on Bowser: “I saw it in spring ball. Zay came in as a physical back. He doesn’t run around you, he runs through you. I turned around on one play, and he lowered his shoulder and a guy flew through the air. That’s just who he is.”

Travis Whillock and Joe Gaziano

  • Gaziano: “For us to go to Indianapolis, that’s a great feeling. But we’re not done yet.”
  • Whillock on the team’s improvement: “It’s just night and day from the Akron game, with all of the hard work we’ve put in.”
  • Gaziano: “The brotherhood in our locker room, when we face adversity, we’re not gonna cower. We’re gonna look it in the eye and give it our best shot.”
  • Gaziano on his trust in the secondary even with the injuries: “I know as a D-lineman I have extra time to pass rush, because they’re gonna lock it down in the back. Us holding them under 100 yards [running the ball] is not just us, it’s [the secondary] too.”
  • Both said they’ll try not to think too much about other games.

Jake Collins and Clayton Thorson

  • Thorson said he threw up a few minutes before kickoff. “Had to get the evil out.”
  • Thorson, on Skowrownek saying he wasn’t expecting the ball on the TD: “Ben better check himself, because he’s the first read on that one. We’ll go over that. Thank for telling me.”
  • Thorson: “I’ve watched [the TD] ten times. The Iowa fans couldn’t find anything to boo about.”
  • Thorson on picking up the first down: “They tell us never to reach the ball out. But I think they trust me, it’s my 49th game.”
  • Collins said he found out he was the kicker this morning, and hasn’t tried a field goal since high school.
  • Thorson: “I’ll just remember battling with these guys. And the celebration in the locker room, that was pretty special.”
  • Thorson on the runs: “We weren’t calling things where I had an option to run [earlier in the season], because the coaches wanted to protect me. But now I’m feeling great.”