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Mike Bajakian, Mike Hankwitz and Peyton Ramsey Videoconference Notes

Ramsey addressed the media for the first time since becoming a Wildcat while the coordinators gave updates on their respective units.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Media week continued with updates from Northwestern’s offensive and defensive coordinators before the Wildcats’ newest quarterback addition discussed his transition to Evanston and hopes for the upcoming season.

Mike Bajakian

On landing Peyton Ramsey: “Well, obviously it started with him entering entering the portal. We had been keeping an eye out. Our recruiting office does a good job of tracking all the movement that goes on around high school and college football. When we saw that he entered the portal, he’s a guy that obviously they knew well here at Northwestern before I got here, and he’s a guy that I was aware of from my time at Boston College. You know, I’ve known some Cincinnati guys in my past two [years], so I knew his dad as a high school coach down there in Cincinnati. I just know he’s a great kid. He fits Northwestern’s profile. He’s tough, smart, athletic, and he’s played a lot of football and won a lot of football games. [He] did a good job at Indiana, had been the starter for all or parts of three seasons, so he’s a guy that can that can come in here and compete right away and make an immediate impact.”

On communicating with Ramsey: “You know we’ve been able to meet quite a bit. It’s been very productive, and frankly, I don’t think the opportunity to do so in the depth that we have been able to do so would have existed, had we not discovered this whole Zoom thing. He and I have gone through all the installs from spring football. I’ve watched video on that, I’ve done the powerpoint presentations. He’s even gotten to a point now that he’s graduated where he’s joined our position meetings, just like the rest of our players do. So it’s been a very productive offseason. And we’ve been able to get him caught up to speed pretty quickly.”

On potentially using Zoom in the future: “Absolutely, it’s efficient. I think when we’re on the road recruiting and were only permitted a small meeting time with our players by NCAA rules, it will just allow us a little more flexibility as we’re traveling or even to fit in our busy lives. I can tell a kid let’s schedule a meeting from 9:00 to 9:45 back in your dorm room, and I’m sitting at home, where in the past, I might have had to wait around campus for all those hours to finish or we’d meet at 6:00 a.m. before the day started if we ever had an opportunity. We’ve been able to get quite a bit done through these meetings.”

On working to speed up the offense: “We’re very fortunate that we were able to get in the eight practices we did. I know a lot of staffs who are trying to install new offensive schemes who got zero practice. The fact that we got in some practices provided us with a lot of video evidence about things that we can improve upon, whether it be execution, elements related to timing and tempo. It has allowed us a chance to step back and take an objective look at what we did, how we did it and how we can improve.”

On who’s the funniest player on the team: “I’m not going to pick one guy, but you know that you got to earn your stripes as a freshman, so Carl Richardson has been getting poked and prodded here a little bit at times, but he’s got some witty comebacks too.”

On T.J. Green’s medical situation: “I don’t feel comfortable commenting on medical situations, so I’ll leave that up to to Coach Fitz, but T.J.’s been working really, really hard and doing a good job.”

On how much time the team need to get ready for the season: “It’s pretty widely felt across the NCAA that there’s at least a six-week return plan in process. Then, then that would minimize the chances of injuries and things like that. Now, again, the NCAA said that June 1 is a date that that schools are allowed to get back to reporting and working out and on a voluntary basis.”

Mike Hankwitz

On what’s he done for preparation during quarantine: “We’ve had access to the computer and the hard drive, so I can watch all the film that I was watching before. I’ve had the opportunity to keep working, keep studying, you know, watch Michigan State, watch self-scout stuff, talk about some things that we might want to try. It’s been better than what I expected.”

On his defense for this upcoming season: “[In 2019] we finished top 25 in points allowed. We let up the fewest explosive plays we’ve had in 12 years, so we’re excited about all of that. We got a great new nucleus coming back. But we also try to look at the area we didn’t perform as well in, and we’re trying to address those, but I’m excited about our nucleus.”

On players wanting to get back: “I think they’re anxious to come back. It’s a lot easier to work out with people you know and to push each other. I think they miss the camaraderie, relationships and friendships.”

On the potential health concerns of a return: “I keep getting reminded I’m in that age group now and that I’m one of the most vulnerable being over 70 years old. If we do it, I’m sure there’s going to be precautions taken, and who knows, maybe we’ll have to wear masks. I’ve worn a mask a lot in the last two months and never had to do that before, but I want to be smart, and I’m sure our administration is going to expect us to be smart and have guidelines in place too. If they do allow them [the players] to return there in June, it’ll be in groups of less than than 10 so that the guys working out would be spaced out, and then they’ll clean areas and then I’ll have another group come in. I know Fitz has thought about a lot about contingency plans.”

On the lack of takeaways last season: “For 11 years prior, we averaged 25 takeaways a year, and then we went down to 14, and I think there were five or six games where we had zero. That’s the number one thing we got to do better. We tried some new drills. We talked about it. There were a couple of times we caused a fumble, and we didn’t get it. We felt like we could have gotten it, and then we had some dropped interceptions. We’ve got to capitalize on our opportunities and be more aggressive.”

Peyton Ramsey

On the decision to come to NU: “In my eyes, it was a lot easier than my high school decision. Northwestern was the only visit that I took, and I decided that I was going to commit right before I left. It was a place that that I visited coming out of high school, and I I really wanted to come to Northwestern, but I didn’t have that opportunity. I got to come back and visit and see what the culture was all about, and I fell in love with it.”

On players potentially being reluctant to return due to COVID: “If there are guys out there that are reluctant, I’m not going to sit here and judge them for that. Obviously, everybody has had their own experiences with the virus and how it’s impacted them and their families. But based on the conversations I’ve had with guys, for the most part, they all seem to be super excited and ready to get back to playing and being together as a team.”

On player-to-player communications: “There are player-lead meetings, and we’ve had those every Thursday. We’ll catch up, then go over signals, particularly stuff we haven’t gotten to with the coaches. That’s mainly been led by the quarterbacks collectively, especially T.J. Green and Andrew Marty.”

On building relationships with teammates: “That’s been the hardest part of all this, not learning the playbook or anything like that. I started by sending a text to everybody on the offensive side of the ball. I’ve communicated with all of them. I went to Evanston a couple of weeks ago and threw with Riley [Lees] and Ramaud [Chiaokhiao-Bownman]. There’s also a couple of local guys, like Trey Pugh is a Columbus guy, and Andrew Marty is from Cinci, so we all got together here in Cincinnati and threw around for a little bit.”

On the differences between Indiana and Northwestern’s offenses: “The biggest differences is verbiage and the way that things are communicated and the way that things are called. There’s a lot of similar things conceptually, maybe a little bit more play action pass here, maybe a little bit more two tight end sets, but for the most part, there’s only so many places that you can run. My quarterback coach at IU, he was he was a grad assistant under coach Bajakian at Tennessee, so there’s some some similarities in what they do and some of the stuff I’ve been exposed to before, so it’s not it’s not too terribly different.”

On what he thought about Northwestern while playing at IU: “I’ve always kept an eye on Northwestern and the culture Coach Fitz has built.”

On beating Northwestern 34-3 this past year: “There’s been no talk about it yet. I guess that gives me some trash talk in my back pocket, but I’m on Northwestern’s side now.”

On the large quarterback room: “A couple years ago I was the only healthy guy on IU’s roster, so it’s really different. But it’s been a lot of fun too.”