Monday With The Wildcats

Just 36 hours after Northwestern's gut-wrenching second-half collapse at Ryan Field, the Wildcats look ahead to their next matchup with the Iowa Hawkeyes. Pat Fitzgerald along with a couple Wildcat players addressed the media. Read up on another Monday with the Wildcats.

• As the norm, Pat Fitzgerald opened up the news conference by naming the week's awards:

o Offensive player of the week: Kain Colter
o Offensive playmaker of the game: Christian Jones
o Defensive player of the week: None
o Defensive playmaker of the game: Ibraheim Campbell
o Special teams player of the week: Venric Mark
o Offensive practice player of the week: Nick VanHoose
o Defensive practice player of the week: Timmy Vernon
o Special teams practice player of the week: Ricky Weina

• Notice the "none" at defensive player of the game. Fitzgerald and the coaching staff agreed no one was worthy of being honored as the defensive player of the game. "As (the coaches) talked, we didn't have anyone play consistently for four quarters," said Fitzgerald. He added, "I think it's kind of indicative of the way we played. We've got to play well as a team for 60 minutes."

• Senior defensive tackle Jack DiNardo said the defensive unit take it personally to not have a player of the game. "That's never something you want to see, you want to see some guys getting it done and have some production in your defense," DiNardo said. "We want to get it corrected and I think we'll have a defensive player of the game after Iowa next week."

• Fitzgerald was happy to proclaim there is no injury news to share.

• After blowing a halftime lead and being outscored 28-0 in the second half, Fitzgerald tried to explain his team's woes to the media. "It's execution," Fitzgerald said. "It's on us as coaches to get our guys to execute." He added, "We need to stop stinking and we'll be alright."

• Jack DiNardo weighed in on the Wildcats' struggles. What's the key to a turnaround? "Just having that short mindset to get rid of the bad taste in our mouths," he said

Northwestern's struggles are a major surprise to the team. DiNardo said, "Never did we anticipate this three-game slide."

• Fitzgerald was asked if it's a conditioning issue with his team. Fitz called that notion a "joke" and added, "I would take our conditioning level against any team in the country."

• In reference to the fourth-and-one option run with Dan Persa, Pat Fitzgerald said there was some bad karma involved with that play. It appeared to be setup to work, but a Michigan defensive end lined up on the wrong side and just happened to make the play. Fitzgerald joked, "We're all sleeping on the other side of the bed. Karma just isn't in a good spot right now."

• Fitzgerald touched on the decision to play Venric Mark as a linebacker/quarterback spy, saying the hope was to contain Denard Robinson. Mark also commented, saying, "I was excited, I kind of wanted the challenge. I knew Denard Robinson was a good quarterback. We needed to contain him. I was excited for that challenge."

• Mark had a new adventure on defense, as he went for a blitz and ran into what he thought was a wall. No, it was a Michigan offensive lineman. "A 6-foot-8 lineman, I've never really encountered that," Mark joked

• Is lack of leadership a problem in letting up leads? According to Venric Mark, no, but he added, "I'm all for a team leader but I think it takes everybody. (It takes a leader on) offense, defense, special teams—all phases of the ball—to win a Big Ten championship or a Big Ten game."

• Looking ahead to Iowa, Jack DiNardo is prepared for the pink visiting locker room at Kinnick Stadium. "It really doesn't bother me," he said. "It's actually one of the nicer visiting locker rooms in the Big Ten."

Northwestern will continue to the week of practice on Tuesday morning. PurpleWildcats.com will have you covered with a practice report and post-practice video. Stay with PurpleWildcats.com as we look ahead to the Wildcats' match with Iowa.


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