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Akron Gameweek Press Conference Notes

On RPOs and communism.

NCAA Football: Duke at Northwestern Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Fitzgerald

-Opened by expressing his thoughts and prayers to those that were impacted by 9/11. Acknowledged those that are fighting for our freedom and liberty, emphasizing how much it means to him and the team.

-Flynn Nagel, Jeremy Larkin, and Joe Gaziano were the players of the week on offense and defense. Said he was proud of Riley Lees for his courage and effort in competing in practice this week and playing in special teams.

-On missed connections on deep balls: “Our guys got separation well, we lost a bunch of 50/50 balls, I thought our guys were able to make the space we just didn’t come down with any of them.”

-On health of Blake Hance/Rashawn Slater: “They were both active today, I’d say they are questionable for the game on Saturday.”

-On Flynn Nagel getting more targets than Skowronek: “I think he was just more open.”

-On Akron: “I’m really impressed what the staff is doing schematically. Kato Nelson is a dual threat guy that makes great decisions. [Jamal] Davis and [Jordan] George, their secondary is really good. You don’t win games by accident, they’re fundamentally outstanding.”

-On fourth down decisions: “We needed to make a play, find a way to gain momentum. If we can make plays then it doesn’t necessarily matter what I do, you have to see how momentum is going. I think Ryan Field was waiting to erupt and I don’t blame them for not cheering, I would’ve done the same thing. I use the charts and it said 4th and 3 was a go, 4th and 4 was coaches option. We needed to make a play.”

-On Blake Gallagher: “He was at the point of attack really well, much better in game 2 than game 1. I thought his growth week 1 to week 2 was really good.”

-On Bears decision to go for it on fourth down Sunday night: I would never second guess another coach, I thought 52 earned it, I was fired up for Dean [Lowry], for Tyler [Lancaster], to get the win. But it was a shot in the face as a Bears fan.”

-On NU players in the NFL: “I take a lot of pride in those guys, we’re so proud of all of our guys, and especially the way some of our guys have had to make it in the league. We had an unbelievable captain this week, Corbin Bryant, he’s an impressive player. He had to work his way up for 7 years. The guys are always amped up for the people we see on Sunday.”

-On the RPO: “I think it’s illegal, to be honest with you. When you look at the tape at the linemen are three, four yards down the field. It’s communism, it’s the purest form of communism. To have a lineman 2.3 yards down the field, that’s legal, but when he goes 3 yards, then it’s illegal. You can’t see that until after the play. You try to use the rules to your advantage.”

Jared Thomas:

-On guys going down: “It’s about the next man up, taking advantage of the opportunity. We can’t be too concerned about that stuff and just have to be focused.”

-On reviewing performances: “We view wins and losses as an offensive line effort, we take responsibility for both wins and losses.”

-On pass frequency: “I think are goals are to run the ball effectively and protect the quarterback, so we don’t get concerned with what the call is, just do what the guy behind us says.”

Bennett Skowronek:

-On his lack of catches: “I wish I had more catches at the end of the day, but we look at matchups and attack from there. I was proud of Riley and Flynn but I’d like to get more involved.”

Jared Mcgee:

-On the RPO: “For me, it causes you to slow down and evaluate your read, you have to fill a gap or force a run but also be ready to release. Hank[Mike Hankwitz] does a good job of helping us and preparing us.”

-On the performance of the safeties so far: “I think J.R. has been phenomenal, he puts so much work in, and it makes my job easier, he’s doing a great job and we’ll improve moving forward.”

-On 1st half v second half: “Just a matter of fundamentals and settling in. Realizing that we can run with receivers and getting down to the techniques that we want to be executing.”

-On covering Duke TE Davis Koppenhaver: “I got my eyes opposition to the TE, but we talked in the huddle about keeping good eyes and good leverage, we got that fixed.”

Paddy Fisher:

-Also on the RPO and communism: “I think it’s a tough read as far as outside backers, it adds a new dynamic to the game and makes it more complicated. We have to learn how to play against that and scheme against that. It challenges you as a player and as an individual. For me, you want to play downhill, in a split second the QB can throw the ball, it’s tough for the way we play our defense. Nate can get put in a bind.”

-On offensive linemen downfield: “Yeah, it’s frustrating in general, Purdue did that but luckily the ref threw the flag. Linemen are nasty, no one likes dealing with them.”

-On this year v last year through two weeks: “Not good enough, I haven’t been playing well enough, there’s lots of room for improvement. I’ve settled in better, expanded my vision in the stance and not just being tunnel vision about it. It’s getting there.”