Monday With The Wildcats

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald and select Wildcat players addressed the media on Monday. Get the latest from Evanston on another Monday with the Wildcats.

Northwestern Weekly Awards:

Offensive Player of the Game: Kain Colter
Defensive Player of the Game: David Nwabuisi
Offensive Big Playmaker: Jeremy Ebert
Defensive Big Playmaker: Quentin Williams
Special Teams Player of the Game: Brandon Williams
Offensive Practice Player of the Week: John Plasencia
Defensive Practice Player of the Week: Ricky Weina
Special Teams Practice Player of the Week: Cermak Bland

• This week is military appreciation day; all active military members will receive a free end zone ticket for the game with military ID.

• Coach Fitzgerald spoke about how special it was to get the upset win over Nebraska. "We haven't been perfect, but we've been pretty consistent. They all count for one win. I think they've all been pretty special that I've been a part of."

• Fitzgerald said one of the keys to getting the win was the great preparation the team had during the week, including film studying, and sleeping and eating well. "Especially defensively, some of our young gusy are starting to mature a little bit. They understand just how hard it is to win…it's really hard to win, and you have to do the things that winners do during the week."

• Fitzgerald gave an injury update, saying Dan Persa told him he "would play this week," and that Brian Peters and Jeravin Matthews were expected to play as well. Jack Konopka, who came out of the Nebraska game, suffered a bone bruise.

• On playing multiple linebackers, Fitzgerald said that his philosophy is if the players are able to go out and perform, he will rotate them in. The more players who can get on the field, the more he can put them in positions to make positive contributions.

• Talking about the defense, Fitzgerald said their life on campus may have improved significantly in an important way with the win.

• "I told them no girl wanted to talk to them on campus three weeks ago," Fitzgerald said. "Now every girl wants to talk to them. So, congratulations."

• Fitzgerald gave Persa a lot of credit for both his toughness and his leadership in playing for the team. Fitz said Persa came to him on the sideline Saturday and said "I can't go back out, I'd do more damage than good," but that Persa's leadership has been phenomenal.

• Fitzgerald also said Colter has developed into a strong leader, and that the coaches have "felt confident in him running the entire offense all season," when asked about Colter's arm strength.

Will Hampton, Jacob Schmidt, and Brandon Vitabile join the media

• Will Hampton spoke of the improved play on defense, including the front seven shutting down the run game. "The sense of urgency definitely stepped up," Hampton said. "This week it was more intense because everybody didn't really give the defense a chance…we took that to heart."

• The team was greeted by the marching band and a group of fans upon returning to Ryan Field Saturday night. Despite that, Jacob Schmidt said the team has no reason to get too high after the upset.

• "We have no reason to get too high on ourselves," Schmidt said. "We still understand that our backs are against the wall so it's one week at a time. Each win is as big as the last one."

• The last offensive drive for Northwestern was crucial, taking more than seven minutes off the clock with 13 straight run plays. The offensive line was given a grade of 88 by Fitzgerald this week – the highest of the season – and center Brandon Vitable said the final drive was key for the line.

• "It's just good to know that we did our job," Vitable said. "When it came to crunch time, we were able to do it, instead of a three and out. We focused on executing each play and taking it a play at a time. Executing a whole drive is phenomenal."

• The players talked for some time about the toughness of Dan Persa, a player Schmidt said makes the rest of his teammates want to play better.

• "He's a true competitor," Schmidt said. "He's the last guy that wants to come off that field. To see him get up after some of those hits and to fight his way back into the lineup even if the coaches don't want him to, that inspires us. That makes us want to play for him that much more.

• Will Hampton, from Houston, Texas, was recruited by Rice and said most of his family will be watching. The decision to come to NU wasn't difficult, however, as Hampton said NU had everything he and his family wanted.

• The tape was removed from the plaque displaying the goal of winning a bowl game. Schmidt said that goal remains on the top of the team's list.

• "That's obviously our goal every year, to be champions. To get that bowl win would be huge for our program," he said. "To be a senior and to have such a large senior class that has been through so much over the past four and a half years, that keeps us motivated each week."

• Though Persa has displayed incredible toughness this season, Kain Colter has also shown his gritty nature. According to Schmidt and Vitable, Colter laid a crushing block on a defensive lineman during one play against Nebraska, something Vitable said pumped up the entire team.

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