Notes: Wildcats turn the page

After advancing its record to 2-0 on the season, Northwestern now shifts its focus to Boston College. Wildcat head coach Pat Fitzgerald and players met with the media during the Monday news conference to recap Saturday's win and look ahead to the next game.

• Following numerous disappointments from the Northwestern defense throughout the past year, Pat Fitzgerald has been the first to defend the unit. On Monday, just 36 hours after the group posted its best performance in recent memory, Fitzgerald was critical of his defense. "To me, I think we can be a lot better," he said.

• Another area in which Fitzgerald was down was the offensive line. "That was an area I was very disappointed in with our game," he said.

• When asked of the quarterback play from Kain Colter and Trevor Siemain, Fitzgerald wasn't too pleased with the poor overall accuracy. Fitz said: "We were average in that area on Saturday night."

• Fitzgerald offered a message to his receivers, a group which was much heralded during the preseason, that struggled with consistency on Saturday. "It's a $60,000 scholarship," he told them on Monday. "Catch the ball."

• There were several bouquets for Fitzgerald to offer, though. The most notable was given to junior running back Venric Mark, named Northwestern's offensive player of the week. "The only guy playing at a championship level on offense is Venric Mark," the coach said. OK, so maybe there was just one bouquet.

• Some optimistic news was offered on the status of top cornerback Nick VanHoose. "He felt great," Fitzgerald recalled of his meeting with the redshirt freshman on Monday morning. "We're hopeful he's going to play on Saturday." Fitzgerald did not have details of the extent to VanHoose's lower back.

• I asked Fitzgerald about Northwestern's new 'TheWildcatWay.com' website, aimed toward fans and recruits. "The fan reaction has been unbelievable," he said. "Same thing with recruiting." He later joked," We're usually not cutting-edge here. More of plagiarists."

Northwestern players Rashad Lawrence, Chuck Porcelli, and Quinn Evans joined the media.

• Chuck Porcelli agreed with Fitzgerald's tough assessment of the offensive line. "I know we didn't play our best," the senior guard said. "We're not playing to our ability."

• Rashad Lawrence didn't back away from the criticism of the receiving core. "Anytime someone is calling you out, with the pride you have, it makes you want to go out and step it up," Lawrence said.

• Lawrence gave a ringing endorsement of his former high school quarterback, current Northwestern sophomore Trevor Siemian. "Trevor has always been one to take the bull by the horns," he said.

• Quinn Evans was listed with Nick VanHoose as an 'OR' at first-string cornerback. He will be the starter if VanHoose is unable to play.

• Evans, the Stanford transfer, admitted to rooting for the Indianapolis Colts during their loss to the Chicago Bears, pulling for former teammate Andrew Luck, the first-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

• Northwestern begins the academic school year toward the end of the month. Given the school's academic prestige, that is to be no concern for the Wildcats. "We're student-athletes -- student comes first," said Rashad Lawrence.

• The Wildcats' first practice open to the media is on Tuesday. PurpleWildcats.com will provide full coverage of that.

Northwestern Monday Press Conference Audio


Northwestern players meet the media

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for Big Red Report, and currently covers the Northwestern Wildcats and Chicago Cubs. He currently resides on Chicago's north side.
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