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Minnesota Gameweek Press Conference Notes

Some newly-minted Big Ten West champions talked about their title and discussed the road ahead.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Fitzgerald

-Opened by acknowledging Isaiah Bowser as the offensive player of the week and Skowronek as the playmaker of the week. Joe Gaziano was the defensive player of the week and Cam Ruiz was the playmaker of the week. Tyler Gillikin earned special teams player of the week recognition from Fitz as well.

-On if the team will be more cautious: No, it’s still all hands on deck, we’re going to try and go out and win every game, same focus. But, I’d rather be a day late with injuries than a day early. You have to practice to play here. It’s a week-by-week thing. You get rusty in this game in a hurry, but I save the right to exercise 51 percent of the vote when it comes to decisions. I’m very transparent with the team, maybe not you guys [the media], but definitely with them.

-On if there was a moment where the season turned around: I just think that the guys stayed the course, in our preparation, the staff didn’t flinch. We had to identify some pieces to the puzzle with personnel. We would’ve liked to be more consistent at times but we weren’t. We overcame that and that’s been big.

-On Bowser: He’s taken his game up a notch and he’s just gotten more confident with each rep and each game. I think the Rutgers game was a big catalyst for his confidence, he’s really kicked it up since then.

-On the Skowronek catch: There have been some spectacular catches I’ve seen here, but that catch was unbelievable. I don’t know how he did it. I couldn’t see where the ball went, I saw it go over him, the officials were talking to each other like they were about to order a pizza. All of a sudden they call it a touchdown and most of the time the call on the field stands, and I’m fine with that.

-On the importance of the Minnesota game: Every game matters to us. We need to go with a championship approach. It’s an inter-divisional game, and champions win football games. You do that by the way you prepare, by the way you play. I am never going to take my foot off of the gas pedal here. This is football, this isn’t basketball or baseball where maybe you can rest a guy ‘cause he’s tired. We’ve got goals ahead of us that we have to achieve and to achieve those goals we have to go 1-0 this week.

-On Minnesota: I think there’s a difference in the way they played passion wise last week. I thought their defense was outstanding. They were fast, they were physical. I think Purdue went 0-12 on third downs, that’s so impressive. I’m just really impressed. They played so well against an impressive football team.

-On the factors that go into close games: It drives me nuts that we lost two of them. It’s not by design to have those close games. But in divisional play it’s rare to see a three or four score game. When you’re talking about the teams that are close to or bowl eligible, it’s always going to be a battle. But the credit goes to our players and staff, we don’t get emotional, don’t get carried away.

-On Alonzo Mayo and Roderick Campbell: We talk about the next man up mentality all the time. Understanding that the only thing you can control is how you prepare. If you have the role you want you need to keep getting better, and hopefully we have guys chasing the starting role that know they need to improve and work hard. If you do that when the opportunity presents itself you’ll be ready to go. I’m so proud of ‘Zo though, he’s working so hard.

-On Montre Hartage: He’s not on the two deep so he’s out on Saturday. [There’s a hope] he’ll return this season, oh yeah.

-On the team’s road success: I think we have a system that we go through on the road. I think we’re a pretty focused group but we’re not overly serious. I don’t know if I’m saying it the right way but every time we travel it’s a business trip. We don’t deviate in how we act. We’ll go to Indy just like we’ll go this week. We just trust in our plan. I thought our guys handled [Kinnick] really well, for example.

-On Jake Collins: I thought he was awesome. Those four punts inside the 20 were huge. You have to take care of the football, take care of the field position. The consistency that we have to go about is great. Those two other guys are getting close to being ready, but we just have to prepare.

-On if Trae Williams and Jared McGee will return this season: Hope so.

Blake Gallagher

-On the depth of the defense: Like coach was just talking about, it’s always next man up. When guys are put in that position they’re able to be successful on the field because that’s how they’ve been preparing all week.

-On celebrating previous success: 24-hour rule. Our focus now is on Minnesota, time to go 1-0 again. We’re far from finished, there’s a long road to go.

-On his switch to Outside Linebacker: You know, I started playing Will since the moment I got on campus here. It’s where I’ve gotten all my work in, so it’s been good.

-On winning close games: It’s just executing in the fourth quarter. When the game is on the line you have to execute.

-On the turnaround of the season: We prepare the same way every week, but sometimes there’s a fire, I don’t remember a certain point.

-On tackling Bowser in practice: Haven’t had to do it much, but he’s a great runner, really physical.

Cam Green

-On the Skowronek catch: I’m not surprised he did it, he does it in practice all the time, but I know he’s capable of stuff like that.

-On the team’s road success: I don’t know, we don’t approach it differently than home games. We just look to go 1-0 every week.

-On passing game struggles: We just have to get our rhythm back. As a receiving core, including the superbacks, we just have to get open so Clayton can get us the ball. That’s what we need to do.

-On the previous game against Minnesota: I remember we went up there and we weren’t prepared from a team standpoint. We went up thinking that we were big and bad. We didn’t prepare well and we weren’t mentally there. It’s 1-0 every week and that’s what we need to do this week.

-On watching the Big Ten East: Personally, no. It’s great and all, but like Blake said, the 24-hour rule is in place. Focus is on Minnesota.