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    Postgame Quotes: Michigan 27, Northwestern 19 (3OT)

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Nov. 16, 2013

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    Northwestern vs. Michigan
    Ryan Field
    November 16, 2013
    Postgame Quotes

    Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald

    Opening Statement...
    "First of all I want to say what an honor it was to partner up with Under Armour to raise awareness and raise funds here for the Wounded Warrior Project. It was a cause that our guys, once we talked to them about it last year, were just incredibly honored and humbled to have the opportunity to go out and raise awareness and funds for. A lot of things were put in perspective this week; we had a chance to meet one of those special wounded warriors. For him to be able to tell his story to the team could not have been easy and it really puts things in perspective so I want to thank them and obviously I want to thank all of our heroes that have been out there defending our country and freedom. Like I said it puts a lot of things in perspective."

    "The game can be summed up in one phrase: missed opportunities. We had our hand on the ball a lot as a defense all the way down there to the end in overtime we created a fumble and it just didn't seem like it was our day. So a lot of credit to Michigan -- they did a nice job coming back and made some big plays down the stretch. We got to stay together and obviously our backs are against the wall now to get into post season, so we've got to find a way to get better and improve this week. They all have great attitudes and stick together, so we'll find a way to have our best week."

    On deciding whether to punt or go for a touchdown...
    "It depends on where the flow of the game is. I thought our defense, especially towards the end of the game; I thought our defense was playing really well. I mean they played well all day so I felt like trying to give them a long field, play some field position and at this point here over the last five or six weeks the most consistent aspect of our football team has been our defense so that probably weighed as heavy as anything on my decision making."

    On other teams converting late fourth-down plays...
    "We just haven't made any plays. That's the bottom line. We're there to make a couple of them; it looked like we had an MA [missed assignment] on one fourth down, the second one, and the one earlier and we just didn't make a play."

    On the move from Brandon Williams to Chris Gradone punting the ball...
    "Right now statistically we're not very good. I'm not a big believer in all those things, but we're not very good, so when we had something tough go like that I had a little concern about where Brandon might go mentally so I decided to take something off his plate and give it to Chris. You know obviously Brandon did a great job with his holds down the stretch on the field goal opportunities and the PATs. So credit to him for sticking with it mentally and staying in it, but I felt like it was time to make a change there. I'll fully expect to kick Brandon next week to start the game."

    On the play of Trevor Siemian...
    "Trevor had a great week of preparation and we really felt like there were some things we could kind of exploit with him in the throw game. For the most part he had a pretty darn good game."

    On Michigan's last-second field goal...
    "I thought I saw the guy go down on 11 seconds. That's what I saw. I don't know how you can substitute and do that in 11 seconds, but they did. What was explained to me is that they don't have to allow us an opportunity to substitute our block team onto the field, so they just let them go. I guess that's the rule so tough deal. Tough deal for our guys in our locker room."

    On what he told his players...
    "We've got to stick together. They have up until this point; why stop now? You guys have covered us all year you haven't seen a team that has stopped fighting. I mean, this team has battled its tail off. We've just ended up again a play short for five out of the last six weeks. We didn't play well at Wisconsin and we got what we deserved there, but any break here or there in five out of the last six games ... it's a totally different feeling right now. It's not [what we deserve] and that's reality. We have one choice and that's to come out swinging and come out fighting and make great choices from getting plenty of rest this weekend and getting ready to go next week and playing an outstanding football team here."

    Northwestern Player Quotes
    LB Damien Proby
    On the team's emotions...
    "No one is going to be happy with a loss, whether this is the first or the sixth. No is going to be happy or satisfied with the way we performed and weren't able to get the job done. The emotion across the board right now is unhappiness with ourselves and the way that we performed."

    On the mindset of the defense...
    "As a defense we understand we have to make those plays (dropped interceptions) but we also understand it's a full length game, so we have to flush it and move on. If anything, we'll harp on it tomorrow in film once we watch it."

    On the success of the defense...
    "We're just going out and executing the game plan. It's nothing more than that. A lot of our mishaps early on, where we did give up big plays, were just kind of mental breakdowns or getting to the point of attack and not being able to capitalize. We've been able to be where we needed to be to minimize their game."

    K Jeff Budzien
    On Michigan's last-second field goal...
    "It happened pretty fast, so it was pretty impressive that they kicked it, and it was a great kick that he made. It was a huge play on their part. You have to get set before the kick, so if that happened, I'm not sure. It's up in the air."

    On the team's six-game losing streak...
    "It's pretty unbelievable. It's shocking. It's depressing. If you told me we were 4-6 at this point of the year, I would have laughed at you. It's not over yet, but we have to start making plays."

    On the pressure of late-game field goals...
    "It's fun. Usually in the first quarter, you feel pressure right away. I think once you get that kick out it gets easier. We were also kicking with the win in the later part of the game and overtime. I think some people would crumble with that when a lot of stuff is riding on it. Fortunately for me, I usually tend to hit my best ball in that case."

    QB Trevor Siemian
    On the team's six-game losing streak...
    "It's been rough. It's been rough for me and for everybody else in the locker room. It's not fun. We just have to keep working. I'm proud of everybody on the team. There is no quit in the locker room. Everybody is continuing to work. I'm proud of the guys and proud to be a part of the team."

    On the support he has received from the team through the losing streak...
    "They've been great. Everybody has been great all along. They're picking me up, and I pick them up."

    Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke

    Opening Statement...
    "There wasn't any doubt about how they played, how hard they played together. They practice that way. I think I tell you that every week. They have toughness to them. Did we start the game offensively the way we wanted to? A little bit in the first drive, but after that third downs were hard to get. But it didn't matter. The defense was out there, and they were playing hard together. The last play of regulation was a play that a lot of teams may not follow through and be successful. But that tells you about the discipline that these guys have playing together, how they got on the field, how the guys who weren't on that team got off the field. That might be the best single play I've ever seen, because it was a team play."

    On preparing for the last play...
    "We had no time-outs. For Matt, we probably needed two or three yards, for Gibby maybe 4 or 5 yards. But it was just Drew Dileo sliding to go hold, and Gibby not having a chance to do his normal mechanics because he's not sure where the ball's going to be. I thought it was great, it was a great play."

    On Northwestern's defense...
    "I thought they were good. I always thought Pat does a nice job, him and [Mike Hankwitz], two defensive coaches. I think they play sound, they play smart, they play hard, they play fast. And they're opportunistic, you know, with turnovers. I like their defense."

    On practicing the hurry-up field goal...
    "We practice it at least twice a week. During fall camp, we probably practice it four or five times a week with different scenarios, different parts of the field, different hashes, different kicks. You know, we just try to cover the bases. Like I said, it was one of the best plays I've seen in my coaching career."

    On offensive output...
    "Well, we want to score more, I mean everyone in the country wants to score more. But I like how we ran the ball. That's the first time in, you know, I guess we were in positive yardage. That's the first time in two weeks, so we'll take that."

    Michigan Player Quotes
    OL Taylor Lewan
    On the hardships in this game...
    "A lot of people have been talking about a lack of leadership, a lack of talent. This team fought, and though obviously we know nothing of the Big Ten Championship game, we have to win 10 games. That's our goal and you can't win 10 without seven. I think it really showed the leadership of this team, the resilience of this team. We're Wolverines. We have 133 years of Michigan football that we're representing. We're never going to have a breaking point or back down, I don't care if we're down 50-0. We're going to keep fighting no matter what."

    On Devin Gardner's OT touchdown... "It was definitely my block that got him in for the touchdown [laughter]. Devin's done a great job overall. It's him being how tough he is, and taking hits, coming back and being resilient, and just fighting. It shows the heart he has on this team, the love he has for the players. That's who we fight for every single day. And it's not just about the seniors, it's about 115 other guys -- the guys that are back home and the guys that travel."

    On the running game being better...
    "The offensive line had a better game than usual. Our running backs ran downhill. I think Fitz (Toussaint) could have done the same thing, but I'm more concerned about just playing consistently now. We have two more games left in the regular season, so what are you going to do?"

    QB Devin Gardner
    On his relief of winning the game...
    "I'm really proud of my teammates. That's all I can really say. I'm really proud of my teammates, and it's a team win. Talk about sticking together, and no better game than a game like this to show the team sticking together. It's about us. "

    On whether or not he was surprised that [Coach] Brady [Hoke] chose to go for the field goal...
    "No. He trusts the team, and I wanted to go for it, too. We didn't get it, the defense responded. But that's why I always say it's the greatest team game. I just thank God for the opportunity."

    On the improved performance in overtime...
    "I really don't know. This team was fired up after ending regulation the way we did. It felt like it was meant to be for us to finish this game. You can call it what you want, but we came out, we competed together and it was a wonderful ball game."

    On Northwestern's defense...
    "There are a lot of guys on their team with scholarships, too. They were playing well, and playing hard, and just like us they were fighting for something. A lot of credit to those guys for giving it their all. We continued to fight as well, so it was just two teams fighting."