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Minnesota gameweek press conference notes, injury news, depth chart

Some harsh words for the QB room in this one.

Pat Fitzgerald addressed the media along with Trae Williams, Paddy Fisher and Jared Thomas on Monday.

The morning started with us learning that Hunter Johnson is no longer on the team’s two-deep.

Now to the quotes:

Pat Fitzgerald

Opening statement: “Exciting week for us. Senior week is always special. This group of 20 guys are awesome. Those guys I’m forever indebted to and thankful for all they’ve done.”

On Minnesota: “Should be a huge challenge.”

On Hunter Johnson’s status: “No update.”

On Kyric McGowan’s status: “No update. Thanks for asking though.”

On Joe Gaziano: “He’s been awesome. I thought he had a half sack last week but the official scorer didn’t give it to him. I’m really proud of the career he’s had. Led us to a championship a year-ago...I think he’s going to play on Sundays for a long time.”

On Minnesota’s success: “They’re taking care of the football, that’s number one. Tanner is a tough, physical guy. He doesn’t do anything to put the offense or the team at jeopardy. They’ve had a solid rushing attack and they’ve got a few all Big Ten guys out at receiver. But it starts with Tanner.”

On Jared Thomas: “He’s had a great career. He’s had injuries and we’ve had to put him in some positions maybe not suited to him...In a year that’s not what we’ve wanted to have, he’s been a definite bright spot. He’s coming for your jobs.”

On balancing playing new players with honoring seniors: “The goal is to win on Saturday, that hasn’t changed. I’m getting to know new names, it’s been great. I don’t need name tags. It’s just a product of circumstances of injuries.

On the potential of Green and Skowronek getting medical redshirts: “Those will be things they discuss at the end of the year. If they come back, then they can have two senior days. No one said you can’t have two. But I don’t want anyone to have none.”

On potential recruiting struggles with a tough season: “I’d like to think that everyone is committed to us will stay committed. Our program hasn’t changed at all. Our program has never been in a better place. We’ll be back. I fully believe it will get turned around quickly. You can’t turn the ball over, you can’t not force turnovers. That is something that can easily be corrected.”

On injuries: “It’s hard to make changes when you don’t have anything next to go to.”

On the chance to play spoiler against Minnesota: “Our focus is on a playing our best game of the year. I don’t think we’ve done that. I don’t think we did it on Saturday.”

On how to fix the QB issues: “It starts with preparation. It’s pretty obvious that some of our guys did not do the things they needed to do to prepare for the season. The production, or lack thereof, is a testament to preparation. In the preseason, we sat here and everyone told me who my starting quarterback was and I told everyone there was a battle. Obviously, I ended up being right...But it comes down to me. The best person has to play, the most consistent person has to play, not the media-anointed one.”

“That is the number one room that I will get fixed. Period. End of discussion. Jason and Andrew are chomping at the bit to get an opportunity. Aidan and Hunter have to prepare better. And they have to preform better. No one was ready to take on the starting role.”

On if he thinks TJ was ready: “Ya, I think so.”

On evaluating Hunter: “It’s not fair to completely assess him with the medical and personal issues he’s had this year.”

On what the QBs specifically have not done to prepare to be the starter: “I think it goes back to the offseason.”

Trae Williams

On going up against talented Minnesota WRs: “Being a competitor you always want to see how you match up against the two good players that they are. They’re playing really good football right now and we’re looking forward to it.”

On the defensive mindset of 50-50 balls: “When the ball goes up, you play it like you have a chance to get the ball too. Go up and go make a play. That’s what we’re gonna see this week and we are going to have to win more of those battles than we lose. If you’re not trusting yourself, you’re not doing what you’ve been taught by coaches. We just have to be there to make the play.”

On whether he knows how he’s going to react on senior day: “No, not really. It’s crazy. It’s gone so fast. But this season has gone fast and I don’t know how I’m going to react. I’m just trying to focus on getting the dub on Saturday, last game at Ryan Field.”

On the legacy of this senior class: I think we’ve had a really great time. We’ve played on some really great teams. Obviously, winning the West last year. My true freshman season, going 10-2 and getting to the Outback Bowl. My first year of eligibility, fighting through a lot of adversity to get to the Pinstripe Bowl.”

Jared Thomas

On his time at NU: “My time here at Northwestern, by no means was it an easy ride. I didn’t think I’d be a fifth-year here, I didn’t think I’d be a starter. To be going out on Ryan Field for the last time this week is a little bittersweet. Just very grateful for this program, for my family at home. Hopefully we’ll send everybody out the right way.”

On a favorite moment from his career: “Going back home to Indy for the Big Ten Championship game last year was truly special. The way the crowd was rocking in the second half is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

On OL confidence: “I think it makes Evan Hull look really good. We know our abilities as an offense and an offensive line, so it was finally nice to see those come to fruition.”

On his post-football plans: “Not sure yet. Take care of Minnesota, and we’ll see what the rest has in store for me.”

On how Minnesota has been so successful: “Confidence and swagger and momentum is a very real thing in this game. When a team gets a few back-to-back wins and is confident, things can really start to get going.”

On how to stay motivated for these last two games: “I think we have to have a lot of personal pride. For ourselves, for this program...Yes, this isn’t what we’ve drawn up, but it’s a great life-lesson for times down the road. I think the trajectory of the program is still ascending. When things like this happen, it makes you hungrier.”

On the first time he saw Kenosha: “I said ‘what is this.’ I didn’t even know what Kenosha was. It definitely has a special place in my heart. I don’t think I’ll ever go back, but it has a very special place in my heart.”

Paddy Fisher

On stopping a tough Minnesota run attack: “This is the Big Ten, where it’s always about running the ball. Every team prides itself on running the ball. They run a lot of RPO and we have to be ready for that. It’s tough, trying to draw me in as a linebacker, that’s what [the play] is there for though.”

On a band-aid on his knee: “Just a little cut. No big deal. Just trying to take care and heal it. It’s really cold out there, don’t want an infection or anything.”

On seniors he’s grown really close with: “Jared comes to mind. Just the guy and the person he is, definitely going to miss him.”

On PJ Spencer: “He’s working his tail off. He’s a walk-on...Slowly earning the trust of older guys like myself. He’s working hard and he’s really taking it serious.”