Presser Notes: Ellis And Campbell Day-To-Day

Updates from Pat Fitzgerald's weekly press conference.

-Linebacker Collin Ellis and safety Ibraheim Campbell are day-to-day with injuries sustained during Saturday’s win over Western Illinois. Wide receiver Tony Jones is also day-to-day, but not listed on the depth chart for this week’s game against Penn State.

-Fitz said last week’s players of the game were running backs Justin Jackson and Solomon Vault on offense, defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo and cornerback Nick VanHoose on defense, and punter Chris Gradone on special teams. He said all five had the best games of their careers Saturday, and also praised cornerback Matthew Harris and linebacker Chi Chi Ariguizo for “being active."

-Echoing what he said on Saturday, Fitzgerald insisted Northwestern can win any game it plays, but admitted that the team has a long way to go. He stressed that Trevor Siemian and the wide receiving corps needed to build trust, constancy and rhythm as the team heads into Big Ten play. Siemian agreed, and said while the unit has improved over the past two weeks, there’s a still a lot of work left for it to do.

-Fitz also said he’s not making any excuses for Siemian, but that his ankle is hindering the zip and accuracy on some of his short and long distance throws. However, Siemian told reporters later that his ankle wasn’t really bothering him — and not as much as he expected it to.

-When asked about Northwestern’s average 4.3 yards per play and his propensity to throw check downs and short passes, Siemian said the offense has been careful about avoiding turnovers. Fitz said he had no problem with Siemian throwing check downs on first and second downs, and didn’t mind it on third downs if it meant the quarterback protected himself from taking a hit.

-Fitz had high praise for Penn State, who Northwestern plays in State College next week. He called quarterback Christian Hackenberg “one of the best in the country,” and complimented how effectively the Nittany Lions spread the ball around on offense and incorporate their tight ends.

-When asked about preparing for Penn State, Fitz noted that much of the coaches’ work it centered around teaching offensive players opposing defenses (and vice versa for the defense) rather than working on specific schemes and skills. He also explained how Northwestern has seen three very different offenses in its past three games and how he wants to work on his defense to work on adapting to new looks as it heads into conference play.

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