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    Postgame Quotes: California 31, Northwestern 24

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Aug. 30, 2014

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    Northwestern vs. California
    Ryan Field
    August 30, 2014
    Postgame Quotes

    Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald

    Opening Statement...
    "Obviously very disappointed in the outcome of the game. You've got to give Cal a lot of credit, Coach [Sonny Dykes] did a great job getting his guys ready. They came in here and started fast and we didn't. Obviously that's my responsibility. I thought the guys were great pregame. I thought they had a really solid week.

    "Down the first drive and gave up some plays, we go for it on fourth down and give up the big scramble play and now we're chasing 14 [points] all day. That's a credit to Cal, they were able to keep it there until the end of the game. When you look at our offensive inability to get things going the first half and we kept our defense on the field for way too long. It became a tales of two halves. Hopefully the second half starts to become who we are, minus the turnover there at the end. A lot of guys got their first experiences today. I think they will be much better a week from now, but we obviously have to stick together. A lot of ball in front of us and you have to give a lot of credit to Cal. They played well enough to come out fast and held on to win."

    On if he saw any signs of a slow start in NU's preparation...
    "I didn't see that at all for the last 48 hours. They were really focused and locked. I thought they had a great week."

    On Cal's integration of a second quarterback...
    "We knew he was a running quarterback, we just didn't fit the plays well. We didn't tackle well. We expected to have a running quarterback but just didn't know what plays they were going to run. You're fitting some things you haven't practiced. I thought once our guys settled in, we handled it okay. But earlier, we weren't very good at it. "

    On the play of Trevor Siemian...
    "He squeezed the ball a little bit and sailed some that were uncharacteristic. We had a lot of drops and so there's enough blame to go around. Timing, execution, things of that nature. There were a lot of chances there that we had, we just didn't get it accomplished."

    On surrendering big plays...
    "There explosive plays were because we didn't execute very well and they did. I thought we tackled really well. I think they are a couple things we'd like to have back. They're like an option team but in reverse, and in the first half they were on the field for way to long. We didn't get off on third down. We didn't sustain drives offensively. And we were chasing two scores."

    On his outlook for the NU offense...
    "I think we've got a really solid skill set out there. We've just go out and make the plays that were capable. We've got to take what the defense gives us too, and there were a few times where we thought we had a shot, but you've got to give Cal credit. They had good coverage so it's kinda a give and take. Our inability to get in a rhythm and our inability to be efficient offensively early in the game had our guys pressing a little bit. And when guys press, you see some uncharacteristic things happen, and that's when I saw in the first half. A lot of work to do both offensively and defensively after todays performance."

    On true freshman RB Justin Jackson...
    "Well, he's a very dynamic back. I think you saw all our guys get some touches and it probably will be that way for a while here. Especially early. Get a feel for who's the hot hand, who's moving the ball and being run efficient. I think overall there's some good and bad, but I thought Justin played well."

    On the play of Miles Shuler...
    "It looked like he hadn't played in a year and I think he was excited to play. There were some really good things that I saw. I think he will be much better next week. But it's great to have him out there and he's a terrific addition to our roster."

    On the team's reaction to the loss...
    "I think it should hurt. We obviously expect to win every game. It starts with us as coaches and then it permeates through the locker room: what kind of team are we going to be? Are we going to be the team that decided to spot a team a bunch of points, or are we going to be the team that responded and came back. From the leadership we've had at this point, the guys will do the right thing to get ready for next weeks game."

    On his message at halftime...
    "The first half there were a lot of things we gave them. You know, when you give an opponent an opportunity to be successful, there you go. You're in a hole and are chasing somebody and that's never a great place to be. So I just told them to settle down. Some cliché stuff, take it one play at a time, one drive at a time. Three scores, to a two-score, to a one-score game, and that's what happened. And that's typically the game of football. If you get down a couple of scores, if you settle down and play you can usually claw yourself back into the game."

    On the play of NU's freshmen...
    "[They played] like it was their first game. They were pretty excited to be out there. Some wide eyes after the game, reality set in for them a little. They were great, and I've had no issues with any of our guys from a practice standpoint and a preparation standpoint. But after the first time you are out there, everything seems to make a little more sense now. We're asking you to have your hips a certain way, it's for a reason. And when they watch it on tape, they're going to listen a little better. I think it's critical to see how that group meshes with our veteran players. And I think that is going to be a hard pill to swallow for some of our vets. Our veterans did not play very well today. They just didn't make the play when they had the opportunity to. That's what I said in the locker room, those vets need to make plays when plays present themselves. And they just need to learn from that."

    On Trevor Siemian's scrambling ability...
    "I think he announced that he had a 4.38 [40 time]. He's going to have to move and that's part of being quarterbacks. He's more athletic than people give him credit for. I'd like to see him slide a few more times, he took some hits that just didn't make sense to me. He'll learn. It's his second or third game that he has been the guy the whole game. He will be much better with the experience. I thought as the game went a long, he started to settle into his game."

    On how the team can avoid outcomes like today...
    "Well, we gotta do what the winners do early. We can't spot a team a touchdown when they had multiple third downs to get our team off the field. We were too aggressive around the perimeter and we can be better at and coach the guys through that."

    Northwestern Player Quotes
    LB Collin Ellis

    On the team's slow start...
    "If I fit in the right gap or guys are in the right place at the right time, big plays don't happen. We have to get off the field on third down. We had a couple of third and longs and then poor execution. We have to do a better job of executing."

    On California's ability to run the ball...
    "Considering they threw the ball like 70 times on us last year, I was surprised. They ran the ball well. They executed well. Once we made some adjustments we were able to put out the fire."

    On moving forward after the loss...
    "From this point on, I'm focused on the next game. We have a great opponent coming in here next week, and we have to learn from what we have done. We had a lot of guys out there for the first time and a lot of guys playing new positions."

    S Traveon Henry
    On California's rushing quarterback...
    "We had an idea there was going to be a running quarterback in. No. 8 did a great job of executing. He really stepped up and fulfilled his role. He played a great game."

    On stopping the running game...
    "We settled in a little bit in the second half. Everyone was a little antsy. Emotions were running high, and everybody wants to make plays. We really just buckled down and did our own assignments. We believed in ourselves and trusted in ourselves."

    WR Tony Jones
    On the team starting the season with a loss...
    "I thought we had a great game plan. We had a great week of practice. To be 0-1 is definitely disappointing."

    On the offense's slow start...
    "It's something that we obviously have to get fixed. We will be back in to watch tape and learn from our mistakes and move forward."

    On why the offense was pressing...
    "We had a lot of guys out there, and it was their first time out there. We were a little bit nervous. This is the group that we have, and guys are going to have to step up. I am confident that they will."

    California Head Coach Sonny Dykes
    Opening Statement...
    "I wanted to go into this game and find out where we were and how far we've come. We did not scrimmage a lot of our first team guys [they] had gotten like a dozen or maybe twenty snaps; we scrimmaged some of our backup guys so I was anxious to find out where we were in the heat of the battle and I thought the big thing was the guys played smart."

    "We had some mistakes out there, but I thought for a first game in a new system we played smart and understood what was going on. And I thought really at the end the big thing was the guys played hard and you know they were competing until the end and trying to make some things happen. The key is not to panic and that's the thing we talked about all week ... will happen during the course of the game. 'Don't panic'. Just play one play at a time and I thing that's something that the guys did a good job at.

    "I just thought offensively they did a nice job. They ran the ball on one touchdown drive and had some key passes and completions on the drive that gave them 14 and you know they did a nice job there. That's one thing we talked about: in that position we've got to hold them to field goals. This tells us, `Hey this is where we are right now,' and now it's time to improve and work and go from here."

    On coverage and Northwestern drops...
    "Those are things that happen during the game. Sometimes guys make those lucky plays and it goes both ways, just like the interception that they got was a good play and also the completions that they didn't get we were there. Those are things that we've got to clean up and we've got to make sure we take care of this week and that'll be the big thing. You make your most improvement most of the time from game one to game two and I think the big thing is the guys being able to see, `Hey there were some good things and here's where we've got to improve.'"

    On last year's meeting...
    "The big thing is for me is just establishing what this team is. New year. Everything is brand new we'll see where we are to start the year and make our journey."

    California Player Quotes
    QB Luke Rubenzer

    On his role in the game/going in...
    "They gave me an idea that they were going to put me in depending on how well the game goes so I mean I didn't know exactly when it was going to be, but I knew it was probably going to come eventually."

    On how he felt in the first game of the season...
    "It felt good, you know. It's different going against your own guys every single day. They're seeing the same plays every single day so when you do it against an opponent it actually is more open. It feels a lot better after the first couple of plays. You know, like I said it felt good going against somebody else for once."

    QB Jared Goff

    On his reaction to the win...
    "All the work we put in all season, everything we did from last winter all the way to spring ball all the way to summer conditioning all the way to camp has really kind of just come together. That doesn't mean we're done or we're finished or anything, but it just feels great to, you know to especially give the seniors the guys who have been working for five years to get a big win like this, it's big time. I wish it would have been easier, but we tend to make things hard and that's how it goes sometimes. We knew it wasn't going to be easy from the moment we came in here. We went up 31-7 I think and all we talked about was, `You know the adversity is going to come because it always does.' We always hit it at some point and sure enough it came about third quarter there, hit a little lull and Jalen Jefferson sealed it."

    On how playing NU last year prepared him...
    "I knew their defense better obviously because I played against them but I think we just came in as a more prepared team. A lot more leadership on the team. A lot more determination I think. It was just a great feeling."