"Just a great job on Defense" - Fitz

Once again the Defense stepped it up, holding Eastern Michigan's top receiver out of the end zone, and allowing only 2 EMU Field Goals. Two NU Quarterbacks rushed for TD's and Joel Howells was perfect from the PAT line - NU won a close defensive struggle 14-6.

It seemed like "deja vu all over again"
This time, though, it was Northwestern, led by quarterback Mike Kafka, who took the opening kickoff and charged down the field, scoring in less than 6 minutes - with Kafka finishing the 74 yard drive with a 6 yard touchdown scamper. Tyrell Sutton [left] rushed 4 times for 19 yards during the drive,  and Kafka was 4 of 8 passing during the drive.

But that was the last NU scoring in the first half as EMU stepped up their defense, and the NU offensive line seemed to be unable to control the line of scrimmage.

Not that Eastern Michigan could do much better. EMU's Andrew Wellock scored all of their points on two Field Goals of 47 and 30 yards giving the Eagles just 6 points, and after a First Half, 10 for 18, 76 yards with one interception passing performance, and too many drives that only led to punts, Kafka was lifted for Redshirt Frosh QB Andrew Brewer to start the 2nd half.

Brewer did a little better.

He did rush 15 times for 48 yards and another TD, and didn't turn the ball over, but overall, the NU offense still couldn't seem to move with either QB under center.

It wasn't until 7:23 in the third quarter when Brewer took the ball on the one and scored NU's decisive touchdown. It capped a 13 play, 72 yard drive that was one second [5:40] shorter than Kafka's opening scoring drive.

NU did pass for 110 yards, with both QBs, plus Tyrell Sutton and Terrell Jordan combining for 156 yards and 11 first downs rushing but all told, there were 16 combined 3 and outs in the game

The real play for the Wildcats came from the defense - The Cats held EMU to just 5 first downs, 2 in the second half. They allowed only 134 yards of total offense - 87 on the ground on 28 attempts and 47 passing. The EMU quarterbacks were only 9 of 25 with 2 interceptions in the game. The only real bright spot for EMU Coach Jeff Genyk was the 42.7 punting average on 10 punts - punts that kept NU deep in their own territory most of the game.

Even so, the game was still close when NU Defensive End Corey Wootton [right] grabbed a Tyler Jones pass with just under 6 minutes to go. The game wasn't won just yet, but with :45 left, Deante Battle grabbed another Jones pass, and returned it 31 yards to ice the game.

It was NU Coach Pat Fitzgerald's first home win - and the team ran to the student section to serenade the fans with the fight song, as the present NU coaches exchanged handshakes with the EMU Staff of former NU Coaches.
After the Game - the WGN guys headed for the "Victorious NU Locker Room" to talk with Pat Fitzgerald....
Just a great job on Defense. I thought we had a much better week of practice - it seemed very similar to the way we were in camp, we had a great swagger, in practice and it carried over into the game where I thought last week we didn't necessarily bring it from the practice field into the game field.

Like I thought would happen, I had to settle them down a little bit in the locker room here before the game and before halftime and we have great leadership and we had guys step up and make big plays and there's still plays out there for use to make as a defense and a lot of teaching opportunities for us here on a quick turnaround tomorrow.

The NU Defense had some standout numbers, 87 rushing,47 passing yards and 2 of 15 3rd down conversions....

Well you go out and practice and you try to execute what you think will be successful against a team, and you know I really was impressed with the job that Greg Colby's done and our entire defensive staff and I'm probably even more impressed with our Seniors on defense.

We've got guys who are very hungry, from the experiences they had to go through last year, and with that little chip on your shoulder and swagger and you go out there and perform the way we did today, hopefully we'll put another chink of confidence into them and we're going to go out and play a very good Nevada team next week.on the road, and its now time to become road warriors and its one at a time for the next few weeks..

What about all the different defensive sets? It seems you're all over the map with different looks this year.

We are, Greg does a nice job of mixing it up and I think that's critical in keeping offenses, especially teams like Eastern Michigan who is running the spread offense who is looking over at the coach to get the play, and I thought we had a very good game plan - a very simple game plan for our guys and I thought we played faster than we did last week and I thought we were decisive

And again I [think] we have a long way to go - we are no way, shape, or form a finished product at this point but it feels a lot better to win and can learn some valuable lessons than what happened last week, but looking forward to a great challenge, having the eyes of the nation upon us again next Friday night and watching that game last night made me - I had to catch myself from getting ahead - its the same crew that does our game - and to be on national TV and everyone in the country's watching us getting ready to play on Saturday is a great opportunity.

What about the QB change?

We thought we needed to jump start the offense a little bit. We went and made a change a little bit - we said in camp we got a great competition , very talented quarterbacks - I have every confidence in the world in all of them and when you need to go to the bullpen for a pitcher and make a change and maybe throw them some knuckleballs or some curveballs that's what we tried to do and Andrew [Brewer] stepped up and did a great job and even more important was Mike Kafka being his fan.

We've got a great problem here. We've got competition and as these guys continue to grow and continue to learn and they're both young and they're going to go through a lot of different experiences on the field and just so they keep their attitude in the right place and keep improving we'll be OK.

And a QB is only as good as his offensive line.

You better believe it and we need to be able to continue to run the football and its amazing this new time component, that fourth quarter was over like that and its a fast game and if you can control the clock and can control momentum you have a chance to win it every Saturday
.

OK Coach and other thoughts after your first home victory?

It feels great - its great to get that monkey off our back and now its time to play a great Nevada team on the road.
That game is at 8 PM Wildcat time next Friday Night.
Pat Fitzgerald's Post Game comments [in italics] are taken from the WGN Post Game Show
-- are based on questions from Dave Eanet & Ted Albrecht and may have been edited for clarity.
Official Game Statistics from nusports.com


Beat 'em All!
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Story (c) 2006 by PurpleWildcats.com/Purple Reign
Interview comments (c) 2006 by  WGN Radio

Purple Wildcats Top Stories

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