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    Postgame Quotes

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Nov. 17, 2012

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    Northwestern 23, Michigan State 20
    Spartan Stadium • East Lansing, Mich.
    Postgame Quotes
    Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald

    Opening statements...
    "Obviously [it was] a great team win the way we bounced back. To come up here on the road, make the plays that winners make, especially down the stretch, it was a great team win. All three phases, I thought we played pretty well in. I see a lot of room for improvement though still, and it's what we'll work on this week. You know, a lot of little things continue to recur, but I'm really proud of our seniors; they were the ones that led us through last week.

    "The guys responded when we got back off the bus a week ago from Ann Arbor; that's when this game started. And the credit goes to our seniors. To come up here, and our defense had their backs against the wall a couple times, but I think we were (plus-4) in the turnover ratio, and when that happens, that's a big, big catalyst in winning the football game. So I'm proud of our seniors, great team win, and way to bounce back.

    "I want to wish Mark [Dantonio] and his staff and his young men the best of luck next week. Obviously it would be huge for them to get into postseason; I've got a ton of respect for the way Mark coaches, the way his staff goes about their business, and obviously the way their young men play."

    On using Trevor Siemian on the final drives instead of starting QB Kain Colter...
    "Kain was a little dinged up and we made the decision to go with Trev [Siemian]. It was just a decision that we had made."

    On bouncing back from the loss at Michigan last week...
    "I think it starts and ends with recruiting character young men. I'm like a broken record on that, but our young men are resilient because of the way that they've been raised, and we get the young man that comes to our program that number one, believes in himself, and as we try to create a program here -- and we try to instill a set of values and things that we believe in -- they have to buy into it, they have to own it, they have to manage it, and they have to hold each other accountable to it on a moment-by-moment, day-by-day basis, and it's all part of the blueprint.

    "When you have success, you've got to do a great job, I think, as a staff of kind of shutting the noise out because you get complacent and you think you're better than you are. And then when you've had some tough defeats like we've had, you've got to shut out the noise and the negativity. With the 24-hour news cycle and social media, it's tough on our guys; it's hard as it's ever been. But we talked about that on Monday. I said, 'The guy that was your best friend two weeks ago when we beat Iowa now thinks that you're not worth a darn when we lose a tough one in Ann Arbor.' That's why you don't listen to that stuff. Otherwise you're on a roller coaster of emotion, so just stay consistent and stay the course and keep plugging along, and again, the credit goes to our seniors and our young men."

    On being aggressive via the throwing the ball in today's game...
    "We're going to do what we believe is going to help us to win, period, end of discussion. It is what it is. Sometimes you're right and sometimes you're not, and when you're not, you're the goat. I get it. I respect it and I understand it, but I promise you this: we're trying to call the plays that help us win and our guys are trying to execute to the best of their ability, end of discussion."

    On Venric Mark being injured and filling in for him...
    "He tried to go and then just got a little banged up again. We're just trying to be smart. We feel like we've got really good depth there. I just asked him if he's going to play next week and he told me 'Yeah.'"

    On Trevor Siemien's performance...
    "Going back to last week, I thought he came in and played outstanding. I mean he really played well, and I believe he's carried that over. We've been saying this all year: we believe we've got two quarterbacks we can win with. It's a lot better situation than probably a lot of NFL teams. It gives us a chance in every game."

    On defending Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell...
    "I think that we found a way to contain him. He didn't have any explosive runs today. The guys went out and executed."

    On his team getting better after last year...
    "To see the way that the program has responded I think is a terrific credit to our players. They've stayed the course. We're going to set things out for them as far as a vision and a belief system and a value system. But it takes them to own it, it takes them to manage it every day, and it takes them to hold each other accountable to the Wildcat way, and they've done that."

    QB Trevor Siemian
    On playing with the injuries to Kain Colter and Venric Mark...
    "We talk about asking, 'Who's going to pick up the flag?' and my opportunity came up and I was trying to execute and the other guys on offense played their butts off. Whether it's Kain back there or Venric or me slinging it around, I think we can do it all and we showed that today."

    On the play calling towards the end of the game...
    "[Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach] Coach [Mick] McCall said we were going to throw it around and pick up a first down or two, and I said, 'Let's do it.' And that's a tribute to our guys outside stepping up in that kind of situation - making the plays they did. Coming into the year they were saying that we had the best receivers in the Big Ten and that's been a big thing. I think we're a pretty versatile offense. I think one of the staples of our offense is tempo -- it's got to be tough for a defense and it's tough for us sometimes but we know what we're doing. Any way we can get them off balance or gain an advantage on our side -- we're going to try to do it."

    SB Dan Vitale
    On his 41-yard reception...
    "I saw that break in coverage out there and soon as I caught it I just took off, trying to get what I could. That kid trying to punch the ball out - it was a smart play by him and I got the wind knocked out of me a little bit but it was an awesome feeling getting down there. It was a big drive for us."

    On using tape of Drake Dunsmore to improve his game...
    "He was good at attacking the leverage of the defenders, which was I think what got me open a lot today. I really took that from him. Being a smaller guy myself, I watched how he used technique to block and I've tried to make that a strength of mine."

    On his role in the offense today...
    "It changes from week to week but I think I'm starting to prove myself. I'm just going to keep going out there, doing my job, and doing what's asked of me. We knew we could hit those short passes on the sidelines and our coaches did a great job planning for that. They gave us a great game plan. I think I'm starting to get a hang of everything -- how the momentum swings affect the game. It's been a fun ride and I'm ready for these last two."

    On the road win...
    "It's a big momentum swing for us. We felt a little crushed last week but with a win this week we're hoping we can latch onto that momentum and get two more wins. Personally, I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing and I think good things are going to happen. We're getting more and more confidence each game."

    S Jared Carpenter
    On the last drive and knocking the ball out of Dion Sims' hands...
    "From where I saw it, I thought he caught the ball. I kept punching and punching and was trying to get it out. Incomplete catch, fumble - I'm just glad we got the job done. We knew they had no time outs and our first job was to get them down in bounds. I saw the ball thrown and I just broke to him. We work on drills in practice and it's good to see those paying dividends. I've been watching the Bears a lot and to see what (Charles) Tillman's been doing -- that kind of stuff rings in your head."

    On the physicality of the defense...
    "We've been working on strip drills and turnover drills all year and it's great to see it paying dividends."