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Akron post-game press conference notes

A lack of execution in timely moments was the theme

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

After a second-half collapse against Akron, Pat Fitzgerald, Clayton Thorson, Paddy Fisher, and Montre Hartage shared their thoughts on the game:

Pat Fitzgerald

-On explosive plays: Looks like we got beat one on one a couple of times, we talked about adjusting our coverages to limiting explosion plays. We were in three-deep sometimes and our corners let the ball get behind them, so we can’t have that. You tip your hat and you credit Akron, but we didn’t do what we had to do.

-On fourth down decisions: You go with plays that you think are going to work, do you want me to burn everything? Bad decision by me, it was my decision so I own it, love to have it back but can’t.

-On Akron coverage adjustments: They played a little bit more corners coverage, a little bit softer. There’s one singular positive from the outcome of the game, and that’s our guys kept fighting. We had a chance at the end, and we didn’t do it. You tip your cap to them, get ready to play Big Ten football.

-On Thorson’s interceptions: The one on the fourth and three, I think he’s trying to make a play, looked like an overthrow as he was trying to make a play. At the end of his career, there will be some amazing superlatives and some times where he can learn.

-On only having one game of film on Akron: I’d love to use it as an excuse but no, I don’t think it played a role. When we play clean football we’re a tough team to beat. When you turn the ball over for 21 points it’s tough to beat anyone. In times of triumph it’s easy, when you have your backs against the wall that’s when it’s tough. I believe in our guys and their attitude.

-On second half struggles: Last week, it was our inability at the line of scrimmage, this time it was explosive plays and turnovers. I think there are some themes, absolutely, and we have to do a much better job in some of those areas. The number one correlation to winning is turnovers, that’s the biggest thing.

-On Kuhbander: He’s been dealing with an injury but that’s not an excuse. He’s an outstanding kicker and we took some off of his plate with kickoffs but he didn’t have a great night. He’s a great kid, a great kicker, hopefully he’ll bounce back from this.

Clayton Thorson

-On what went wrong: Turned the ball over, can’t win when you give them three defensive touchdowns. That’s the difference in the game.

-On the plays: First one, fourth down, trying to make a play, had to get the ball up somewhere, threw it past Flynn, gotta make the throw. Second one, wet conditions, have to be more careful with the ball. Third one gotta make the play, missed it.

-On comparisons to Illinois State and Western Michigan games: I think this game those guys played really well. Give credit where it’s due, they were the better team tonight. We shot ourselves in the foot tonight, I was responsible for three of their touchdowns, can’t have that.

On team morale after bad plays: Our offense did a great job of coming back and playing, I think our offense and defense were good at staying up and realizing that we’re still in this game, credit to those guys, I was really proud of them.

-On the final play: Just a Hail Mary, I don’t know how close it was to being caught.

-On reviewing the game: We’ll watch the tape tomorrow and move on, get ready for Michigan on Monday.

-On the approach he wants Fitz to take in the bye week: We just gotta go back to practice, take it like a man, everyone on this team played well enough to win today, but I didn’t. Watch the tape tomorrow, flush it, we’ve lost two in a row, gotta turn it around.

-On mobility: Definitely feeling good, feeling good rolling out, got a first down, but it got called back. I’m feeling good and as the season goes on, I’ll feel better.

-On setting TD record: It’s an honor, to think about all the great Northwestern quarterbacks that I’ve seen growing up. Credit to all the guys that have caught these touchdowns, and we’ve had great running backs to open up the pass game, great O-line, but it’s great to have that.

Paddy Fisher

-On emotion after the game: We’re hurt, we’re upset, not how we wanted the game to go. We have to fix this as a collective unit, as a team.

-On second half: They didn’t do anything different, it was on the defense. We didn’t do well enough. Everything they had done we had seen on film.

-On defensive issues: Lot of missed tackles, myself included, bad reads, bad eyes, missed assignments.

-On the approach he wants Fitz to take in the bye week: I’d like to see [him kick our ass], I was in this position before, losing to Illinois State and Western Michigan, and we figured out a way to turn it around. The captains asked us where we want to go with this team, what direction we want to go in.

Montre Hartage

-On big plays allowed: Bad communication, bad eyes, led us to the wrong side of the play. Something like that is fixable.

-On Kato Nelson: I think they just came out and did what they did. Us as a defense, gotta remain focused, finishing the game, it’s something we gotta emphasize more. Whenever we come out and dominate, have to keep the gas pedal up. I wouldn’t say that we exhaled, but you have to play really well, it’s something that we have to clean up.

-On speedy players causing issues: We play against pretty good talent every week, it’s about going out and executing every week.

-On pass breakup in the fourth quarter: Playing our base, third down coverage, had the opportunity to make a play on the ball and I did.