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Iowa press conference notes

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Fitz and his team shared their thoughts on another disappointing loss.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Northwestern Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern’s head coach was joined by a trio of players to talk about the team’s fifth consecutive loss. Here’s what they had to say.

Pat Fitzgerald

Opening statement: I want to congratulate Coach Ferentz and his staff for coming up with a great gameplan. We moved the ball at times but weren’t able to do anything. We gotta play cleaner, take care of the ball and score points. Disappointed but we got our seniors now and they have five left, and that’s what we’re playing for. I asked our team, ‘what’s your goal?’ That’s my challenge to the guys.

On comparing the loss to Ohio State: Our inability to score points and get takeaways makes it difficult to win games, so congratulations Iowa.

On the Jefferson injury: It’s lower body, that’s all I have right now. It is what it is. The next guy has to step up and at times we had guys open, at times it was drops. There are issues that we just have to get our guys to trust themselves.

On the decision to kneel at the end of the first half: There’s 38 seconds left in the half. I don’t want to turn the ball over and go down three scores.

On the decision to keep Hunter Johnson on the bench: My decision.

On Thorson’s return to Evanston today: He’s the most underrated Wildcat in history. The haters hated that guy too.

On if people are being unfair to the team right now: I don’t listen when you’re playing in a Big Ten Championship game and I don’t listen now. It’s been a hell of a rollercoaster ride. Listen, I’m a fan first. I graduated from here. It’s pretty important to me. If anybody needs a hug I’m available for them.

On entering November with one win: Our guys gotta get some rest and recover. Just get healthy and put a great week of practice together going into Bloomington.

On the vibe within the team: Guys were negative when we were down 7-0. It’s been a long negative grind, some guys are listening to too many haters. I come in to the locker room and the first thing guys are doing is looking at their phone, not taking a shower. It’s a simple concept, people like winners.

On when personnel changes include the coaching staff: You look at everything. I think you assess the entire program at the end of the season. If we stick together we can still get these guys into the postseason and that’s the focus right now.

On the defense’s play: We coach it every day, getting takeaways. It’s something that we talk about every day, T and T, tackles and takeaways. Right now, the turnover aspect isn’t happening.

Aidan Smith

On what he’s learned thus far in the year: It’s not just a gameday thing. It’s a lot of preparation you have to do. I think I’ve been doing a good job of doing that preparation. But to get to the next level I need to double or triple everything, you can’t just come out and play like high school.

On the fourth down play late in the second quarter: We were doing a specific sequence given to us by the coaches and there was a miscommunication from the sideline.

On the interception: I could’ve done a better job of looking them off, but the defensive line made a great play, lucky play.

On what he thinks the mood will be in the quarterback room: I think after crossing the 50 yard line and not putting any points on the board, the quarterback room will definitely be dissapointed. That’s just the way it is.

On the conversations he has with the quarterbacks on the sideline: Yeah, they’re over there telling me you were right or they’re saying I know you went here but over here might have been an easier pass. They’re always talking to me.

Blake Gallagher

On Iowa’s chunk plays: Sometimes they’re going to break through. They made big plays and sometimes it’s poor fundamentals, it’s stuff that happens.

On dealing with injuries: Next man up, gotta step in and play like a starter. Whoever comes in prepared just as well as the starter.

On evaluating the defense’s performance: We just try to come out and do our thing every week. We just have to tweak the little things and we’ll be alright.

On the team’s morale: I thought we responded [after Fitz talked to the team] and kept swinging.

Greg Newsome II

On the cornerback group’s play today: We gotta play better. We have one pick on the season in the DB room so we just need to play better.

On responding to injuries: It’s just next man up. At practice we work that. The next guy is just always ready to play.

On the difference between this year and last year: We’ve gotten in a lot of close games, normally we win them. We’ve been preparing well we just need to win.