Northwestern Presser Notes: 11/25

Pat Fitzgerald addressed the future of his coaching staff and this weekend's Land of Lincoln game in his weekly press conference.

— Fitzgerald named Tony Jones, Dan Vitale, Jimmy Hall and Chance Carter his players of the week after the team's lowly performance against Michigan State. Xavier Menifield, Keith Watkins and Marcus McShepard earned the honors for the practice squad.

Kain Colter is listed as "day-to-day" after taking a hit to the head in the first quarter of Saturday's game. He will be "very limited" this week, and wouldn't have been cleared for practice Monday. PW will monitor his status throughout the week.

— "Any time you play a rival, you throw the records out, regardless," Fitz said of the upcoming game with Illinois. Saturday's matchup marks the worst combined record between the two teams since 2006, when Fitz was a first-year head coach and Illinois finished just 2-10.

— Fitzgerald praised Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase and and called the rivalry games in college football "arguably the best weekend in sports." He also expressed interest in ending the Big Ten season before Thanksgiving, motioning to cut the second bye week earlier in the year.

— Fitzgerald wouldn't say much when asked about making changes to his staff this winter. "I make choices and decisions on all things macro after the season. Schematically, fundamentally, all those types of things," he said. "But I don't think there's a staff doing a better job in the country in keeping the team together." He added that if he had to make a decision today, the entire staff would likely be returning, though nothing's set in stone.

— There was a lot of praise for Jeff Budzien as well. Fitz believes that his senior kicker has a shot at the NFL next year.

— "I'm not going to enjoy it" Fitzgerald said on the free time Northwestern faces without bowl eligibility. He and his staff will recruit during the first two weeks off, then focus on "big picture and brainstorm" work in the third week.

— Fitzgerald announced that there will be nine practices prior to spring break, just like this year's setup. The limited spring scrimmage from March will also likely be reprised next spring. "It's definitely going to be weird," Jimmy Hall said about not having December practice. "We're going to use this as motivation to not let this happen again," he said. "The bad taste is still in our mouth," Treyvon Green added.

— Hall said the defense's recent lack of interceptions is partially because quarterbacks have been adjusting and game-planning, but some of it falls on drops and missed opportunities.

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