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9/30 Press conference notes

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Four players spoke to the media after practice.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 30 Northwestern at Illinois

As the Wildcats head into preseason camp with the season just over three weeks away, four Wildcats spoke to the media following practice. Here’s what they had to say:

Andrew Marty

On a crowded quarterback room: “I think every year I have been faced with some quarterback competition. So, really, separation of reps, I do not really handle it. But, I love working with our guys. The new offense is super fun. It is exciting stuff. In terms of reps, you can ask Coach Jake about that one.”

On confidence rolling over from last season:“Hell yeah! Hell yeah. I hope I am able to say that. I had a blast that last game. Heck yeah man, it gave me a lot of confidence rolling into the offseason. Things I need to work on: not taking so many hits, y’know, getting down when I can. Obviously, stretching the ball downfield. I ran the ball 30 times, I do not envision doing that every game. So, having the ability to do that, but at the same time, getting the ball to our playmakers to let them make some moves and not take some brutal hits all the time.”

On new playbook: “I think Coach Jake really stresses tempo... All good offenses have tempo. All good offenses have similar schemes. There are similarities, there’s differences, There are a lot of exciting things that have come in this year compared to last. In terms of specifics, I wouldn’t really think its a good idea to dive into that. I can tell you that I am excited. I am looking forward to getting the opportunity to be back on the field.”

On generating energy without fans:“Ultimately, our energy needs to come from within and with the guys that we have. Everyone knows about Alex Spanos. Hopefully he’s screaming and hollering and getting the juice flowing. But, I mean really its gonna have to come from us. Its unfortunate we are not gonna be able to have our great fans at the game. We definitely feed off of that. So, having the ability to adapt. I think that’s so important this year, overall adapting to whatever comes at us. So we will have things in place to make that work...ultimately we are going to make some plays and get excited both offensively and defensively.”

On his approach from last offseason to this season: “It’s changed because I had to learn a new offense. I don’t think mentally it has changed. I think I said it after the Illinois game, I was going to put a perspective into my head that I was going to be the starting quarterback going into the offseason, so I really owned that and wanted to build on that. So, whenever the decision comes from coach, that’s going to be the decision. But I am honing in on my skills to help this team win.”

On the time period between the season being postponed and restarted: “It was hard, I am not going to lie to you. Coach gave us a week or two, I believe, to take a debrief moment because we had been put through the ringer for the months leading up to it. Once we got back here, we all bought in. I had a conversation with Coach Jake the day that the season was cancelled. He was like ‘you know man, this is a great opportunity for us to really refine our fundamentals.’ I felt like I was at a recruiting camp. Just throwing man to man right across from you. There were little things like that that we really got to take advantage of that time. Ultimately we wanted to be playing football, but we once again had to adapt to the moment, and I thought we did a really good job doing that.”

On his relationship with TJ Green: “TJ is one of my best friends on the team. We always joke a ton about how long he’s been here for. Basically, he’s like 23 or 24, so he’s an old man. But TJ is an awesome asset for me, for everyone on this team, just his experience. He is a real honest guy. So coming off during plays, we’ll always be communicating with the quarterbacks, but in particular, I really trust TJ with what he’s seeing. So, I have a lot of respect for TJ and I am always going to be his good friend.”

On his relationship with Peyton Ramsey: “We talk about it all the time (being from Cincinnati). The Reds are playing today, and we were joking with our quarterback assistant who is from Atlanta [the Reds play the Braves]. We had a little internal conversation with that. It’s great. I have a lot of pride being from Cincinnati. I think that Cincinnati guys are hard-nosed. You see that in Peyton, and I would hope that you can see similar from me. It’s nice to have another have Cincinnati guy here. We definitely crack some jokes, talk about the Bengals, Joe Burrow, and how we can win the Super Bowl coming up. It’s a lot of fun stuff. It’s good having Peyton around.”

Blake Gallagher

On the chemistry in the senior linebacking corps: “We’ve been playing with each other for three years now, coming up, so just that trust and that bond that we’ve built over these past couple years is huge, especially in a weird year like this, we’re kind of all on the same page. We’ve been out there, we’ve had the experience with each other, we kind of know what each other is going to do and we play off of each other, so it’s been great.”

On expectations for this season: “I think our goal is just to be the best defense in the Big Ten. We set out goals every year in our linebacker room to be the most physical linebacking group in the Big Ten and that hasn’t changed.”

On forcing more turnovers: “That’s something we talked about a lot this offseason. It all comes down to working more in practice...it really starts with the mentality to create turnovers. We are going to continue to work this camp and this season to hopefully create more turnovers.”

On what they did following the postponement: “Make sure we were still being consistent in the way we were still running, lifting, we were still working out, keeping our conditioning up, just working on basic fundamentals and techniques, and still looking through the defense to make sure we weren’t rusty when we came back and got back in the swing of things...I thought that was something we did pretty well.”

On having no fans at games: “It’s gonna be interesting. It’s gonna be a challenge that everybody is going to be going through. But, it’s something you gotta embrace the heck out of, right? BYOJ, bring your own juice this year! Everybody has gotta get hyped on the boundry, guys on the juice squad, the younger guys gotta get hyped, the strength coaches always do a great job! Like you said, you guys know Spanos is going to get them going. It is just a passion and energy that we need to play with...that is going to be more important this year than it ever has been with the absence of the crowd!”

Isaiah Bowser

On OC Mike Bajakian’s run game: “We are going to be physical, get downhill and try to set the tone.”

On playing alongside several quarterbacks: “It’s been fun playing with all the guys in the quarterback room. They all have their differences, but I think the running backs have done a good job. Once Coach Jake makes the decision, we’ll be ready to go with whoever it is.”

On returning after an injury-laden 2019: “I feel like I always approach with a chip on my shoulder and something to prove. Coming off not playing last year, I am even more fired up this year since it’s been a while since I have been on the field.”

On how he feels physically: “We don’t have pads on yet so I haven’t been hit in awhile but I love contact so I don’t think that will be a problem for me. I am feeling good.”

On getting comfortable with everyone in the new offense: “We’re constantly building chemistry, getting to know new guys on the offense. Especially Peyton, since he just came, but it’s been good, I think we’ve built some chemistry with everybody in the quarterback room. I think we’ll be ready to go.”

JR Pace

On regaining prior form after not making an INT last year: “I did have a down year. I want to not only get back to my sophomore year, I want to help this team in the best way I can. I definitely want to get back to that level of play, if not higher, from a couple of years ago.”