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Purdue gameweek press conference notes, injury news, depth chart

Hear from Fitz and co. on the team’s consistent struggles.

Pat Fitzgerald was joined by three veteran Wildcats to discuss the recent loss to Indiana and take a look at the overall struggles of the team. Before the press conference, however, NU released a depth chart with some notable changes.

Without further ado, let’s get to the quotes.

Pat Fitzgerald

Opening statement: Kyric McGowan was the player of the week on offense, Riley Lees was our big playmaker. Defensively it was Travis Whillock and special teams wise it was Tyler Gillikin.

On updates for Newsome and Miller: They’re both out for the year. Bowser is also out this week.

On Hunter Johnson’s availability prior to the Indiana game: He was our number two quarterback. I don’t usually take about private meetings with our players in public, but family always comes first.

On Johnson’s injury: He’s day to day. He took a pretty big hit that I’d say was unnecessary, but our guys all have to respond to it and be ready to play.

On the team’s injury struggles: It’s not been cool, but the next guy has to step up. We haven’t done a good enough job as coaches.

On the quarterback rep split in practice: Like I said Hunter is day to day so that’ll be how that determines it but it’s somewhere around [50-50]. I don’t have the exact analytics in front of me.

On the team’s practice success not translating to games: Fourth-year quarterback is the first thing. [Thorson] had a lot of confidence, a lot of confidence in himself and what he was doing. He was able to get us out of bad situations.

A lot of times you get emotional and react to some things, but you have to take time to step back and take a look at the root causes of issues. We had people there at practice last week who said to me, ‘Wow. Are you sure you guys aren’t undefeated?’

All I control is driving the guys as hard as I can, with the bodies that I have. Those aren’t excuses.

On Adebawore’s progression: His opportunity has presented itself and Tommy has done a great job, he worked his tail off. I thought he played pretty well on Saturday, just played and had fun. I think he’s got great power, great getoff and he’s just going to continue to get stronger and stronger. He has a great future in our program.

On what he wants to see from the team: Well they have a chance to leave a legacy, we have three out of four at home, our rival to finish, and sending our seniors out the right way would be awesome, get us back to being a championship level team on the field. We will be back there, I promise you that. We will be back there.

On the team’s attitude on the sideline: We were down three scores and there weren’t a lot of guys on our sideline that had faith we could go and get a touchdown. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, that needs to change.

On his role as a coach in this situation: There is a lot of noise you have to help guys through as they grow up and become college men. I believe in letting coaches coach and letting coordinators call plays. I’m not going to change that just because things are going good or bad.

On similarities with Purdue: I can’t speak to their program, I can speak to our program. Like I said I have one million percent confidence that we’ll get back to winning. Our only problem is winning games on Saturday. Everything else in our program is A+ right now, everything Monday through Friday and Sunday is humming along. We’ll get this thing turned around. I have a track record of winning football games, I have a track record of that. I know it’s not happening right now and I’m incredibly disappointed. But for the future, and 2020 and beyond, we will be back.

On the offensive struggles: I mean it’s obvious. You guys watch the games every week...we haven’t scored since Kennedy was president.

On if the team’s depth will improve next year: I think absolutely. We get some of our guys back, we’ll add a lot of depth, and I’m fired up about our recruiting class.

On the team’s turnover struggles: We’re not playing physical enough, we’re not driving our feet. We’re at a 50 percent rip rate and it’s not good enough. It’s natural and I’m not doing a good enough job of getting them to focus in the moment. But I didn’t get here by pouting, I got here by fighting, so that’s my expectation. Keep fighting and keep battling.

Paddy Fisher

On the team’s turnover issues: It’s definitely something that we stress during practice, but we’re just not getting them. It’s on us as a defense not getting takeaways. We’re not locked in, not thinking about it enough so we need to be thinking about it more.

On dealing with injuries: We’re just fighting every day, not giving up. It’s part of the game. You put on your pads and helmet and you play football knowing that the chance of injury is there. My heart goes out for those guys who have gone down with injury, but we’re just going to keep fighting.

On his assessment of the linebacker group: We’re playing pretty even keel. We’re just kinda there. We’re not being the change in the defense that we need to be right now. We’re just not going above and beyond and making plays or giving our offense any momentum, it’s just not there.

On the team’s morale: It’s so easy to give up in this world when everything is handed to you and everything around you is so negative. You have to go out every day and earn it. It’s so easy to give up and right now we’re not giving up.

Jake Saunders

On his first career sack: It was a big moment for me personally. I’ve had to battle through a lot since I’ve been here, so it was a good moment for me but at the same time I think about all the other opportunities where I could’ve made a play and I didn’t. We watched plays this morning about how close we’ve been to getting turnovers and we can’t do it. We emphasize it every week in practice, and I know I’ve been in positions where plays just haven’t been made.

On the defensive line’s inexperience: It’s always been a close group and I think that helps us. We’re all supportive of each other and we help bring along the younger guys, and it’s important that we have faith in them, trust that they’re going to do what they’re coached to do.

On Adebawore’s success: He’s been great. He’s full of questions and on top of that he’s super strong and athletic. He’s got a really bright future.

Riley Lees

On the team’s struggles in the second half: We just didn’t execute. They played good defense and we didn’t capitalize when we had chances.

On his performance during poor results: I think I’m looking more at the whole than the individual. I thought we were moving the ball at times and we would just stall. We need to finish drives when we start them.

On his level of frustration: I don’t really care how I do. I’d rather have a bad season and win games than have a good season and be 1-7. I just want to help us win in the best way I can.