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Minnesota postgame press conference notes

Pat Fitzgerald, Joe Gaziano, Travis Whillock, and Andrew Marty talked to the media after NU’s eighth Big Ten defeat.

Following Northwestern’s 38-22 loss to Minnesota, head coach Pat Fitzgerald, defensive end Joe Gaziano, safety Travis Whillock and quarterback Andrew Marty took the podium.

Pat Fitzgerald

Opening statement: “Just really thankful for our seniors, our video staff, our equipment staff, those who really sacrifice the normal college experience to be apart of our football team. That relationship is really important to me. Same thing with our cheer and our Northwestern University marching band. Same thing for our 20 guys. Obviously, it’s been a tough year without a doubt. Credit to Minnesota. They’re having a magical year. We know what that feels like. We had that last year.”

On the slow start: “We wanted to start fast. We talked about that all week. That was not the plan. There were a couple things we had the opportunity to make plays offensively. Defensively, we’ve gotta get off the field on third down.”

On the offensive line not allowing another sack after HJ injury: “In a day of positivity, that’s a positive.”

On HJ starting: “Hunter got the start because he was the most healthy quarterback we had with experience. Hunter and Andrew took the majority of the reps in practice this week. Proud of Andrew stepping up and getting his first real experience.

On Marty’s performance: “I’m just happy for him. He’s worked really hard. He’s a great young man. I hope he gains confidence through the experience.”

On the Minnesota receivers: “Slants and fades... that’s what we practiced all week. We just got beat.”

On the defensive line: “There’s some young combinations out there.”

On Aidan’s injury: “He got banged up in the game [last week]. The medical team told us he can’t play.”

On Joe Gaziano’s record: “I thought he had it last week. They changed the rule by how they do defensive stats. I would’ve been so irate if he was half a sack behind the record.”

On Minnesota’s Big Ten west championship opportunity: “I think they’ve earned it. They’ve got a pretty big game next week. They’ve had a wonderful year, and I’m really happy for them. They’ve executed well. They’ve won the turnover battle and close games.”

On depth: “It is what it is. Next man up. We’re gonna get those guys back. We’ll be a lot healthier next week, but that’s not an excuse. We’ve gotta coach better, and we’ve gotta play better.”

Joe Gaziano

On the moment he broke the record: “I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a full sack or a half sack, but after the graphic went up it was pretty obvious.”

On breaking the record in the same fashion as his first sack: “It’s cool that I’ve had three safeties. I’ve always wanted to score a touchdown, but I guess I’ll settle for six points. It’s always a big momentum play. We went down and scored, and it was a nine-point swing.”

On Senior Day: “It was a real special moment. Having my parents in the stands is awesome....I’m very grateful for that, I’m very grateful for my teammates putting me in a position to succeed as well.”

On Tanner Morgan: “They have a great attack with how they throw the ball off their run schemes... It makes your secondary hesitate a little bit to play the run and opens up the holes.... I think he’s a great quarterback and I’m excited to see what he does next week against Wisconsin.

On the run game: “They brought in an extra offensive lineman as a tight end. I think their running backs did a great job of seeing the holes. We didn’t play as well as we could. We take those yards personally that they were able to gain.”

Travis Whillock

On the receivers: “They’re two good players. They made the plays when we didn’t. Myself personally, I know I didn’t play well enough. You can put this one on me, but the beauty of it is we get to go back to practice and back to work. Its been a rollercoaster this year. Credit to them. Two good players. At the end of the day, I can go to the touchdown, I gave him too much cushion. These are things I know I can control.

On taking the blame: “Just on me... I know I have to be better. I’m gonna do that, I know need to do just that.”

On preparation: “Our coaches had a great game plan for us. It comes down to execution. When you have a couple good players on that side of the ball and you don’t execute, that’s what’s going to happen.”

On Bateman and Johnson as the best pair of receivers: “They’re two really good players. They can go up, they can catch the ball. Good balls skills, good receivers overall. If you watch the film, there was nothing scheme-wise, it was just one-on-one matchups. Credit them... I know I have to be way better.”

Andrew Marty

On his first real experience: “I thought collectively we did a lot bettter. We were able to add a little bit of an element of QB run and I thought I did a good job.”

On his style of play: “I think you saw it today... I always try to elevate the people around me. I try to get the people around me fired up... I throw a block if I need to.”

On improvement throughout the game: “Really nothing, different. Guys just started making plays with the momentum rolling. When that happens, things open up... The offensive line opened up holes for Evan and myself.”

On getting the win: “Absolutely, whatever it takes to get a win. That’s what we were trying to do today.”

On being ready to play: “Comes down to preparation. The Ohio State week I probably didn’t do my best job preparing to get into that game. I knew I needed to have an impact on this team. From there on, you try to make those around you better... that’s what is so special about this team: the unity, the brotherhood.

On the QB situation and injuries: “I wouldn’t say so. You just allow yourself to execute when your number is called in practice whether that is with the ones or twos. I fell real bad for Hunter. He’s worked his butt off all year, he’s been through some tough stuff. He’ll be back.

On when he learned he was going to play: “I leave that up to Coach Fitz.”

On playing football: “It feels real good. I was, it felt great. Its been awhile since I’ve hit. It was a lot of fun... I do but I think there’s some bright days ahead.”

On his playing future: “It comes down to Coach Fitz. Everything that I do throughout the week is earning that job. Today is one game, I got two years left... We need to get a win next week for the seniors. They deserve it, they’ve been here for four or five years.”