* It was the novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald who noted, "The rich are different from us." It was the 'Cat coach Pat Fitzgerald (they're not related) who noted, "Football players and athletes are a lot different from fans."
This was at his weekly Monday press conference, and here the subject was just how does a team get over a loss as enervating as the one suffered by his 'Cats Saturday against Nebraska. "As a competitor, you move on, you move on quickly. You know you've got to get back to work," he now continued, explicating his observation. "We're back at it this morning. Our fans can't get back at it again until Saturday, so it lingers a little bit more with them. Then the awesomeness of the 24-hour news cycle fans the flames of negativity or positivity, if that's a word.
"I'll go back to when I had the great privilege to work for (the late) Randy (Walker). He'd talk all the time about how when you win football games is when you really have a challenge on your hands as a coach. But when you stumble and have some momentary failure and you don't win a football game is your opportunity to really come together as a ball club. I thought we did that a couple weeks ago (after losing to Penn State) and I sensed that here this morning when we got together.
"I thought the guys came with a great attitude, they looked at the film critically and we moved on. We didn't linger. It is what it is, guys. It's a long year. It's a one-week season each week. Each game is almost like a season in itself. This is what I do know about our ball club. We'll fight our tails off now. We're a physical ball club and we'll fight. If we can coach them up a little better, if we can make a couple more plays, I think we have a chance to have a special finish to the season. It's been a grind to this point. Now we've got to finish what we've started."
* Already, at his weekly Monday-morning meeting with his players, Fitzgerald had admonished them with his now familiar phrase of "Flush it." This is something he does win or lose. But on this Monday he also reminded them, "Don't let Nebraska beat you twice."
"Which is to say," the running back Mike Trumpy would explain, "''We lost to them this past week and don't let this game affect the way you prepare or think going on to play Iowa (Saturday at Ryan Field).' So flush it, learn from it, move on and grow from it." "It's coming every day with a positive attitude," the wide receiver Tony Jones then said, explaining the effect of flushing. "We're still a 6-and-2 football team and there's four games left for us to win. So come in with that positive attitude, ready to work and consistently prepare for victory."
"There's a certain formula that we have around here, win or lose, and we stick to that formula," Fitzgerald himself finally said. "We've had great success, we've had solid success -- I can't say great; we haven't won a championship -- but we've had solid success out of it. So we'll stick to the plan and continue to tweak it as we move forward. The guys understand what happened, what we did, what we can do better, they put it to bed this morning and are moving on. First-down, third-down, goal-line day tomorrow (at practice)."
* Still, and despite his formula, the very nature of this occasion means there will be some looking back, and so it was not surprising that Fitzgerald was asked about his struggling offense. It managed just 121 passing yards against the Huskers, is averaging a Big Ten worst 172.75 passing yards a game, and completed just one of the five deep passing attempts it made on Saturday. "It was a combination of both," Fitzgerald said when asked about the last fact. "There were some plays I thought the throw was there and we've got to make the play or we've to stick our foot in the ground and go up and make the play. There were a couple that we under-threw that the receiver did a terrific job of knocking down what could have been an interception. So it was a combination of a couple things. Like I said after the game, and I've watched the tape, we went one-fer. We go two-fer we win. It is what it is. It's over. Move on."
"I think we (he and Trevor Siemian) were one-for-four, so definitely there's some room for improvement," Jones later said. "That's on the both of us. When Trevor throws my way, he's counting on me to make that play. So, regardless of where he puts the ball, it's my job to come up with the completion. We'll spend more time on it this week, definitely. Having that deep ball threat definitely will spread the defense out and keep them honest. So I definitely think we could use a play here and there, that home run play. I just think myself and the other receivers have to do a much better job tracking the ball, making plays on it."
* The 'Cat offense is certainly unconventional in the way that it uses Siemian and Kain Colter at quarterback, yet, this season, it has eschewed trick plays. Might we see more in hopes of getting the offense out of its funk? "I'm too boring, man. Sorry. Trickeration is not in my vocabulary. Sorry to disappoint people," Fitzgerald began, but then he added this. "We've got things (and) if you look at the way the game was Saturday, you could say maybe a trick play makes the difference. But although that was two spread offenses going against each other, that was an old-school Big Ten game. There were 23 (21 actually) punts. A pretty good defensive battle. That's just the way the game went. But we've run reverses, we've run plenty of trick plays. I'm not overly concerned with that. We've got about 78 in our package each game, 78, 79 trick plays."
* QUICKLY NOTED: Running back Venric Mark sat out the finish of Saturday's game after staggering off the field early in the fourth quarter. But Monday Fitzgerald said he expects him to play against the Hawkeyes. He used the word "doubtful," though, when asked about corners Nick VanHoose and Quinn Evans, who were also injured against the Huskers. . . Redshirt sophomore C.J. Bryant finished up Saturday in place of VanHoose and Evans, which indicates he's in line to play if that pair is unavailable. "C.J.'s been playing really well in the kicking game for us and he's been performing well on the practice field. Through that, his role has increased," Fitzgerald said of him on Monday. "You guys know how I feel about practice. I think every rep counts, I think everything you do counts, I think everything matters. It's about the little things that make a difference in you as a man, and make a difference in you as an athlete. He's just been really consistent this year. He can run, he's got good hips, he's got good feet. When everybody's healthy, I think he's going to be a guy who's going to be in the mix to compete to play corner for us if not increase his role in nickel. He's doing a good job for us.". . Linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo was asked Monday if it was tiring for the defense to think it had to make plays with the offense struggling. "It's not tiring," he said. "We work hard in the off-season to make sure we're the best-conditioned team. So we're out there and able to make plays sometimes. We've just got to be able to bail our offense out sometimes. They've bailed us out plenty of times before. It's a team game."
* AND FINALLY: Fitzgerald, with a final look back: "That was a, what are those great things, slobberknockers or whatever. Those were two teams just battling it out in a physical, physical game. We're one football width away, we're one tipped pass, we're one catch, we're a lot of ones. I told 50 guys today they all lost the game for us, that was the coaching staff included. So get over it, right? There're about 50 plays in that game that go one way or another, we win that football game. So. It's football, you know, and you move on and you just keep grinding. I think we're moving in the right direction. We've just got to keep grinding on."