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Press Conference Notes: Bowser, Williams “both feeling much better”

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Updates on the injuries, the new Ryan Field food, and much more.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 31 Northwestern at Stanford Photo by Larry Placido/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Yesterday, Northwestern introduced their new menu options for Ryan Field this fall at Spiaggia in Chicago. Additionally, Pat Fitzgerald held a mini press conference and answered questions from the media. Fitz covered everything from injury updates to where his loyalties fell for the Bears-Packers game last night:

On how the ‘Cats used the bye week: “We got back on the field today. We took Monday off… It’s the first time in my 20+ years coaching to have Labor Day off… We hit the road recruiting Tuesday and Wednesday. We got back on the field today. We’ll be back on the field tomorrow. Give the guys off Saturday and then we’re in our normal game routine on Sunday.”

On TJ Green’s injury: “TJ had surgery yesterday, and he’ll unfortunately be out for the year.”

On Isaiah Bowser’s injury: “He was running around today, we’ll see. We’ll have an injury report on him and Trae next Thursday. Both of those guys are feeling much better.”

On Hunter Johnson: “First of all, I’m really proud of the way he improved throughout the game… To get out there and the way he responded in the fourth quarter, I’m really proud of him. I thought he gave us a chance to win and I think he’s really going to learn and grow from it. I talked to Clayton at length the other day… It was kind of like going back through memory lane for me with what we’re going through with Hunter right now.”

“He’s gonna get better, he’s an outstanding football player and terrific guy… He had a really good practice today… The sky’s not falling. I don’t want to be disrespectful to you guys [the media] but we’re in a one score game with a first time starting quarterback on the road against a top 25 team. He’s got a lot of room for improvement and he will. I am excited about it and we’ve got a lot of football left in front of us… We’ve got a chance to be an outstanding football team.”

On the rest of the quarterback room: “Jason [Whittaker], we moved him back from superback to the quarterback. Andrew and Aidan are ready to rock too.”

More on Whittaker: “I told him I didn’t want him to be a ping-pong ball and I’m not sure this will be the last time he’s on this side of the court, so to speak… I want to get Jason on the field. He’s too athletic to be watching… He’ll do whatever. He’s a great teammate. He said ‘It’s not like you’re moving me to kicker. I’m still on offense.’”

On Johnson critics: “I just hope and pray that he’s not listening to anybody who is being negative because I would love to have those people flip roles with Hunter and see how they react.”

On Missed Tackles: “It’s a fundamental technique thing. If you look at A.J.’s (Hampton) missed tackles, he ducked his head, he lunged, he was out of control. (It’s a) simple thing that can be fixed. Same thing with Travis (Whillock). (He) ducked his head, lunged, out of control. Gally (Blake Gallagher), overran the ball on the one because he had (to cover) two thirds of the field.. And the other one didn’t play to his help... All things that can be fixed. Those are probably the three guys that missed the most tackles.”

On Earnest Brown’s late hit penalty to end the first half: “There was a raging debate between you guys and the Stanford media… I was gonna get ready to get over the top and have you guys arm wrestle. I was excited, I was going to stand away and let you guys go at it. That was the most excited I was in a post game press conference in a long time after a loss.”

“Obviously, I told Earnest on the boundary that he’s got to be smarter on a quarterback that we know is a habitual slider… Earnest Brown is an outstanding football player and a terrific guy that tried to make a football play and should’ve been fractionally higher… There was no malicious intent… I one million percent have his back. He was incredibly apologetic… When it didn’t go to review I looked at him and I said ‘I guess you get to live to fight another day.’ He goes ‘I’ll never do that again.’ And I said ‘I believe you.’”

On Northwestern players in NFL: “I think we’ve done a better job here every getting better and better talent… We’ve got 14, 15 guys in the league right now. It’s not happening by accident… It sometimes frustrates me that guys aren’t getting the credit while they are here. Justin Jackson was the third all time leading rusher in Big Ten history… Everybody’s shocked that he’s having a great NFL career outside out of our program, outside of everyone that covers us...None of us in our program are surprised.”

“Those guys go in and from day one are pros… They show up to the facility early. They go to treatments. They show up to meetings. They have an Ipad charged. They’re not late to the bus. There are more guys that are talented that mess it up on Sunday because of character flaws than guys that have great character that mess it up (vice versa).”

On NU players being generally underdrafted: “It is what it is. It’s gonna start changing as our guys continue to go on and have great careers.”

On his Bears-Packers loyalties for last night: “First of all, I hope all four guys play their tails off and have awesome games and the Bears win. There’s no sugar coating that one. I mean 1985, I’m ten years old and the Bears won the Super Bowl.. I fell in love with the game.. That was the tipping point of my life for my love of the game. So, I hope that place is frickin’ rockin tonight. I love Murph (Packers president Mark Murphy) and I’m fired up for him and the Pack and all that, but, you cut me open outside of purple and white, man, I’m a Bear fan. There’s no doubt about that.”

On being courted by the Packers: “I don’t know what that means.”

Why the team has a bye week so early in the season: “I think especially after a tough game, I mean that was a tough trip. We didn’t get home until 2:30 in the morning. 88 degree day. Guys should be tired. When this years schedule, how many ever years ago, we had the option of having a game this week or a bye. Jim and I chose to have the bye for the specific reason of knowing the trip would be hard… we anticipated a night game, we got an afternoon game. So, it was kind of by design, especially on Monday and Tuesday to kind of get away, recharge mentally and physically.”

On TJ Green potentially returning for a sixth year: “We’ll cross all those bridges down the road. Right now, our number one priority after anyone has any surgery is pain management. The first few days, the first few weeks and then we’ll get going on the rehab process.”

On his favorite new food item to try: “I heard there is a breaded steak sandwich. So I’m pretty stoked about that, it’s kind of right up my alley. How was it Mr. Cat [Dave Eanet]? ‘I had the beyond burger, plant-based, excellent.’ I don’t even know what that means, but I trust your judgement. I’m more of a meat guy.”

Beyond the press conference, here are the five new options at Ryan Field that were available to taste at Spiaggia yesterday:

Here is the breaded steak sandwich which Fitz praised.
NU will now serve an Asian Meatball Sandwich.
This is the bacon avocado burger. I am not an avocado fan, but many NU avocado lovers can rejoice.
These are the loaded nachos with shredded chicken among many components in the dish.
This is the beyond burger which NU announcer Dave Eanet called ‘excellent’.
One of the spicier options of the new food at Ryan Field is the Piri Piri Chicken Naan Sandwich.

Finally, here is a list of all the new food options at Ryan Field for this season. The boneless wings sound intriguing: