Fitz was joined by a host of players to discuss the win over Illinois and the upcoming matchup with Ohio State.
-Opened by highlighting how much it meant to the team to beat Illinois. He credited Lovie and Illinois for playing well, and noted that the team came out injury-free.
-On the most gratifying part of the season: I hope we stop talking about the 1-3 start. I wish the narrative would change to going 15-1 over the last 16, winning eight out of nine this year. The way that they worked the past two weeks knowing Indy was ahead. They deserve a lot of credit.
-On the team’s plan with starters: DId you see the game? That was the plan. I felt like we could win with the personnel in the game.
-On Ohio State: It was a lose-lose no matter what. But, we’ve got an unbelievable opportunity this week, I’m fired up, the support from our students, we’ve got a chance to get this team to the Rose Bowl and if that doesn’t fire you up I don’t know what does. But we have a big challenge ahead.
-On if he considered putting Thorson back into the game: One hundred percent no, one million percent no, infinity no. The plan was the plan, we won.
-On the tight knit nature of the team: The brotherhood was the glue that kept this program together. Injuries challenged us this year, you take two guys like Nate Hall and Clayton Thorson out of practices, that’s a huge challenge, and our guys stepped up. I’m not surprised, though, that’s the nature of our squad. I’m really proud of them.
-On the impact of this season on recruiting: I hope they see a consistent winner, a program with unparalleled support.
-On the distractions after beating Iowa: Very fortunate, I think our guys prepare to win. We talked about championship preparation for two weeks, and we’ll have a chance to do it in the third.
-On the attention disparity between Northwestern and Ohio State: Coach Meyer is as good a coach as there is in the country. Their group won’t get fazed at all. He knows how to handle outside distractions. For us, a lot of people are going to say we have no chance. We’ll take the purple to Indy and hopefully we’ll compete and I expect that they will.
-On Bowser and Thorson: I thought they were great, really efficient, I’m proud of that whole offensive group. A couple of months ago, I was thinking of [only] playing [Bowser] in four games. That wasn’t very wise.
-On Fisher’s interception: It was a great play. We knew the explosiveness of their offense, they put a lot of pressure on you schematically, and we’ll have that challenge next week too.
-On the style difference in conference and non-conference football: Big Ten games are Big Ten games, they’re huge, but other games are huge too. We didn’t get it done in non-conference play this year.
-On when he knew he was coming out: Our position coaches let us know as the game went on. I always want to play, that’s never going to change, but I was just doing what the coaches tell me to do.
-On Ohio State: We played them in 2016, we have a lot of respect for them, we saw how they took care of Michigan. We’ll go prepare and we know we’re going to get a good game.
-On his play: My confidence has been high the whole season, I’m just playing my game.
-On his leadership capabilities: I bring a lot of experience, seeing a lot of defenses, going into a game like this, this is a place we’ve never been. We just have to go and play our game, control what you can control.
-On the first half two minute drill: We feel really confident in our two minute offense, felt we could go down and get some points.
-On his best memory at Ryan Field: I think back to that Stanford game, my first start. Minnesota, first Big Ten win. Nebraska this year. I’m going to miss it here but we have two big games coming up.
-On the strategy for the week: Throughout the week we’re just preparing like normal. We were going for the win, but coach told me in the third quarter they were going to hold me out, so that’s when I knew.
-On how tough it is to watch the fourth quarter from the sideline: I always want to be in the game, but I have faith in our guys, that they’ll pull it out.
-On Ohio State: They’re a great team, they beat Michigan, a team that beat us.
-On his opening run: Line had a great block, receivers were blocking great, got the crowd going and our sideline got going.
-On growing up in Ohio: I was recruited by them a bit, everyone around me was an Ohio State fan. I’m glad where I am now.
-On Ohio State: They’re a good football team, have some explosive athletes, good ball club, I’m looking forward to it.
-On the defense’s performance: I thought it was solid, obviously some things to clean up. Big play from Paddy, big time players make big time plays, but yeah, we got the job done.
-On his season: It’s just going out there and playing ball. Last year I had to put in the same work, you never know when your time is going to come.
-On the defensive line: Look at those guys up front, they’re all monsters up there, they’ve been dominating the line of scrimmage all year, they’re grown men. It makes our job a lot easier.
-On Ohio State: They’re a very athletic team, we’ll look at the film tomorrow, we just need to bring our fundamentals from practice to the game and execute.
-On his interception: They ran an RPO, they were hitting it all game, I just read the quarterback’s eyes, got my hand on the ball.
-On if playing against the RPO so much this year will help against Ohio State: I think so, it’ll help us be disciplined. We have to be prepared, patient with our reads and react fast.