Jan. 1, 2013
Box Score |
Photo Gallery 1 |
Photo Gallery 2
2013 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl
Northwestern 34, Mississippi State 20
Jacksonville, Fla. EverBank Field
Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald
Thanks, appreciate it. Well, on behalf of our entire football program, I'd like to say thank you to Rick [Catlett], his entire staff, the entire Gator Bowl organization, committee, volunteers. We had an unbelievable week here in Jacksonville this week. Thank you to Mayor Brown and everyone in the city of Jacksonville for opening their arms to Wildcat Nation and allowing us to have an incredibly, special, special week.
Thank you for the opportunity to be here. Very thankful for the opportunity to participate in an unbelievable, unbelievable bowl game in a great setting with a rich tradition. We'll be forever indebted and very thankful for that.
I've never been here before (after a bowl win), so I'm not sure how to act. But this is what's left of the monkey after the guys tore it apart, obviously, in the locker room. But there are so many lessons this team has learned, especially for our seniors throughout their journey, and it's been a special journey.
Obviously, to have the entire class graduate, multiple guys in graduate school, to graduate as the all time winningest senior class, and to be the first senior class since 1949 to win a bowl game, I think speaks volumes for the legacy, and the incredible success and the foundation that they've laid for the future. And that will be our challenge as we move forward.
Obviously, it says on our goal board, and all of those in Chicago that come up every day at every press conference, it's no secret that our goal is to be champions, and this is the first step in accomplishing that mission. So we're very thankful to our seniors and everything they've done for the program. And it is with a heavy heart that I say that, because this is the last time I get to embrace them in the locker room. But they'll always be part of our family, and it was really special, selfishly for me after the game to get a chance to see Sam Valenzisi, and this one goes to all the Wildcats that have been here before us. They've paved the way for us. We've got the best athletic director in in the country in Jim Phillips and st president, Morton Schapiro.
The sky is the limit for where our program can go. We've gotten off to an unbelievable start with our fundraising campaign, and we'll be way ahead of schedule in improving our facilities to where they are currently to the best in the country, in a setting that is unmatched and unparalleled in college football.
To have that kind of support is just unbelievable and where the future may go for us. So that's exciting.
Tonight we'll celebrate a terrific victory and have a lot of fun, and do it the Wildcat way as well. And have a lot of fun.
On getting off to a quick start...
I think we've been pretty good with that all season long. You know, there are a lot of things that we need to continue to work on and correct as a program. One of those is when we get a big lead to put teams away.
I've got to give a ton of credit to Dan Mullen's staff and his young men. They battled back and made a bunch of plays in the second quarter. We'll talk about it. We didn't necessarily execute very well in the second quarter.
I think it was a combination not only of ourselves, but also the way Mississippi State adjusted and the way they were playing in the game. We'll give them credit first, and then look at the areas we can get better at.
Defensively, we gave up some uncharacteristic big plays. Like we adjusted wrong on one play. Something we've seen a couple of other times. When we came back to the boundary, this will be the hallmark of this senior class. David comes off the field in one wrong run. He said I adjusted that play wrong, it's my fault. I'll get it fixed.
When your senior captain linebacker is pointing at himself and taking responsibility for his actions, I think it's like okay. Let's go fix it. It wasn't anything other than we've got a job to do, and let's go do it. Obviously, the credit goes to our young men and our staff, and great job by everybody. But I thought we handled it really well.
On becoming NU's all-time winningest head coach...
Well, selfishly, it's very humbling, but if it was just me, then how selfish would I be? It's about our young men, all the great young men that I've had the privilege to be their head coach and very privileged to helping them to grow and be the best they can.
For those of you that come out to practice every day, I guess you get a chance to watch the best coaching staff in history and the best and brightest in college football. I say that humbly, but we're a little biased that way, and the credit goes to the staff.
And to our wives. They sacrifice a lot for us to be able to do what we do. There is none that's greater than my wife Stacey, and just thankful that she loves me to do this, and help other young men grow and take the next step in their lives.
But Jerry Brown got win No. 119 today. So put that 50th win in perspective. Today was Jerry Brown's 119th win. So that's the all time winningest coach.
On the play of defensive ends Tyler Scott and Quentin Williams...
Well, it was pretty much the way they've played all season long. So we did something neat today with the highlight tape. We showed a highlight from our last game, and then we took a highlight from all of our seniors. One play from them in high school, and then we moved that in. So we went from Hunter Bates all the way down to the last Q. Williams. And Q. Williams' play, he hits the quarterback, knocks him down. The quarterback at the last second, then Quentin chases the guy for like a minus one yard play, and that's the way he's been his entire career.
Tyler has just been a warrior. He's worked hard. He's gotten so much stronger and more explosive. And Mike Hankwitz and our defensive staff give those guys a great plan.
On facing SEC opponents...
We've got the utmost respect for the SEC. We played them multiple times now. Down in Tampa, about a yard away, and against a team that won a National Championship the next year. This year we went 2 0 against them. I'll say this, we can run, we're athletic, we're fast, we're physical, we're tough, and we know how to respond. I believe we play in the best football conference in the world. I'm biased, but I don't care.
On alternating between Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter at quarterback...
Trevor can talk about this too, but we started out back in Chicago. That was our plan all along. Again, with players formations and plays on offense and as a program. We really felt like both guys were playing at a high level at the end of the season. We wanted to be able to be multiple in what we were trying to do and what we were trying to accomplish. We were tipping our hand a little bit at the end of the year. Trevor went in, and we felt we were seeing some things then Kain was in.
So we wanted to get both guys on the field. Getting them out there a little bit in space and doing some things. That was just pulling the ball, you know. So that was number one. So the credit obviously goes to Mick McCall and our offensive staff. They put together a great plan.
We had to adjust at halftime. Chris Wilson and their defense did a really nice job of taking some things away that they thought we had, so they adjusted well in the second quarter, and we adjusted pretty well in the second half, so we're able to sustain some drives and make some big plays.
LB David Nwabuisi
On why he was confident Northwestern could win this game...
Just being around my teammates this whole year. We've been working towards this goal all year long. I saw it in my guys' eyes all week, at bowl practice, the whole month leading up to bowl practices, watching the film, getting into game play. We were really confident with what the coaches gave to us. We were just really confident in the kind of talent and game playing that we had. We knew we were going to come out here and get it done.
It's just a great feeling. It's unreal. It's like we keep saying, we haven't been here before. I'm kind of sad there is no confetti afterwards, but I'll deal with it. It was just good to be out there on the field as long as we wanted to.
Coach Fitz had to yell at us to get into the locker room. I wanted to be on the field forever with those guys. Love my teammates. It was just a great feeling.
On the play of the defense...
It was just a great way to finish the season. I don't know who didn't make a play on defense today. It was incredible. Plays were coming from everywhere. And the defense we compete to see who can make the most plays and truthfully, we had no idea. The ends were playing their butts off. Our DBs were playing hard. We had Proby in the middle sticking people. Chichi got himself an interception. Our D tackles played a hell of a game too. It was a great game, and that's just the way we finish.
QB Trevor Siemian
On the touchdown drive in the third quarter...
I think it was big. It also helped our defense get a bunch of stops and getting the ball back. It's tough to get away playing like that, the way we played in that stretch. But, yeah. But guys on the outside stepped up and made plays. Like I said, the defense covered our butts today for a about part of the game.
On his touchdown run...
That is probably the first pull [keep] I've had on a play all year. I surprised myself a little bit, actually. Yeah, I just think they never thought I was going to pull it, and either did I. So that's good.