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    Pat Fitzgerald Press Conference Transcript

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Pat Fitzgerald and his team welcomed a large contingent of Chicagoland media to campus on Wednesday.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Pat Fitzgerald and his team welcomed a large contingent of Chicagoland media to campus on Wednesday.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Aug. 8, 2012

    Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald
    Northwestern Media Day Press Conference Transcript

    On Quinn Evans...
    "We started the recruitment process back when he was in high school, we started that relationship with him and his family and, obviously, he decided to choose to go to another school. Roughly sometime in February or March, I received a phone call from his dad and he said that he might be interested in transferring. I said at that point that it would be great but, due to NCAA rules, we would have to have him released first. From there, once we received the release, we then started off with opening up lines of communication and working through medical. Then we brought him out to campus to have an official visit, just like we would for any other player and everything worked itself out. We're really happy to give him the opportunity to play and we had a scholarship that became available, so it all kind of worked itself out. I'm very pleased with his fitness level, for a young man who has been out for a couple of seasons, he's in really good shape so he's invested himself greatly. He's a very explosive athlete from what I've seen and he has a willingness to learn."

    On Mike Trumpy's progression after his injuries...
    "It's great to have him back. He looks great and he's starting to put some weight back on, at one point he was down maybe 20 pounds after the injury. He's moving pretty well even though he missed spring practice. He's starting to knock the rust off. In my experience, I didn't really feel great or 100 percent comfortable until I got twisted up in a pile. You hear that scar tissue pop and you have that initial scare but then you get up and realize you're okay. It's really just a process. He'll have great days where he can take every rep and then other days he wakes up and his knee is just sore. You just have to be patient with it and we always err on the side of caution and look after him but he's been going full speed for the last two days. It's just really great to have him back in that running back position."

     

     

    On naming a starting quarterback...
    "If we were playing in the next couple of days, there would be no question that Kain [Colter] would be our starting quarterback. I like that Trevor [Siemian] wants to be the starter, you'd be a little disappointed if any guy in the backup position didn't feel that way. If you look at our track record over time, we're going to find a way to get our best eleven players on the field and right now we see that with Kain being our quarterback. As Trevor continues to evolve and all of the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place you can never say never. We're very pleased with where Kain is with his development and taking over a leadership role. I've said it in the past and I'll say it again, Trevor is 1B, he's ready to play and ready to go so I think we have a good problem here."

    On Kyle Prater's impact on offense this season...
    "When I look at how Kyle [Prater] has evolved into our program, coming off of multiple injuries at his previous institution, that's a journey. It's a process. We're working one step at a time in that process. He has a great attitude and he's working really hard to get himself in position to compete to play. As long as his attitude stays where it is and he continues to work as hard as he is, I'm excited for what he can bring in terms of our offense."

    On how the economy is assisting in the recruitment process...
    "From the standpoint of young men and what's important to them, there are a lot of variables that go into their decision. For some young men, they win the family lottery and have two parents assisting them and then you have other young men with different family situations and then you have young men who are making this decision on their own. When we sit down and talk to these young men, they're looking at the impact of this decision for the next 40 or 50 years, not just the next four or five. When they see the playbook that we have and the processes that we have, the way that we go about developing them into the best that they can be in all aspects of their lives, that excites young men. Structurally, we always talk to them from the standpoint that we're always going to be tweaking and evolving and finding the best ways to help them develop but the key ingredient to their success is going to be them. I can't really say if it's this or that in the economy that is helping us but these young men want to be prepared when they walk out of college. No longer is it the case that you can wait three or four years after college to figure out what you want to do. In this economy, you have to walk out of college prepared to compete for a job. We have a great process for that."

    On the depth of the receivers this season...
    "To be a young man that's used as a weapon, you have to be a receiver in the top eight to get into the rotation. If we could have nine guys in that rotation, that would be tremendous but we've never had that happen before. Injuries play a factor in it and as things evolve and continue to move forward, some guys really emerge. This group looks to be as deep as it was when we had that three-headed monster a few years ago with [Eric] Peterman, [Ross] Lane, and [Rasheed] Ward. We haven't practiced with pads yet, we're practicing for the first time with pads today. We'll see what happens then. I like receivers who can block so that'll be how we get that depth and how they get the ball."

    On who is stepping up to be the best pass rusher this season...
    "From a leadership standpoint, there's no question that Brian Arnfelt, Tyler Scott and Quentin Williams have really stepped up for the whole offseason. That group of three has really helped tighten up the entire group of linebackers. That group is as tight as it has ever been and the credit goes to those three young men. I'm not sure yet, though, who our pass rusher is going to be. I have some empirical data from the spring but we've added a few new pieces to the puzzle. I'd like to see how things evolve: Quentin Williams didn't go through spring, Tyler Scott is healthy and I like the things Deonte [Gibson] did through the spring. We're looking for four cheetahs, four guys who are going to get after the opposing quarterbacks.

    As far as linebackers, right now, I feel like we have four starters. Guys like [Collin] Ellis, and [Chi Chi] Ariguzo are guys that can play multiple positions, along with [David] Nwabuisi, as far as the outside positions. I think [Damien] Proby can play Mike and Will, so we have four starters. We just have to figure out who our next two guys will be to join that six-man rotation. Drew Smith is emerging with that group, so he could be number five. We'll see where the rest of the pieces come together."

    On the new Under Armour gear and the players' reactions...
    "The players love to be the only Big Ten school to have a partnership with Under Armour. They love the technology. Recruits love it. When we unveiled the uniform, I received a bunch of Facebook messages from recruits; I guess they think that stuff is cool. I'm excited about it. We're very appreciative of our previous provider and what they did for us but to be with one of the cutting edge companies, and to be the only ones in our league is exciting. It's hard going through that transition, from one company to another because everything has to change but they've done a great job. Eric Howitt and our equipment staff have done a great job. It's like everyday is Christmas. Everyday we get something new so the guys are loving it."

    On someone emerging as a rusher...
    "You'd love to have someone be the Walter Payton, or even our most recent 1000-yard rusher, Tyrell [Sutton]. Mike [Trumpy] was trending down that road a year ago and was on pace t be over 1000 yards. The biggest thing we want to have is balance. We want to be able to spread the field and run the football and be physical at the point of attack. With that being said, we're not going to be pounding our heads against the wall and saying we have to run this play or that play or we're not going to be successful. A year ago we had to run the quarterback way too much. Kain [Colter] had way too many yards at the quarterback position for my liking. But, again, if we get to week four and that's what we have to do to win, we will."

    On the challenge of using Kain Colter's athleticism and simultaneously protecting him...
    "A little bit of it is education. A year ago, we didn't do a good job of that. Any teacher will tell you, "don't touch the stove, it's hot" but until you touch it, you're not going to learn. If you look at some of those early games last seasons, Boston College and that hit he took against Eastern Illinois that he didn't need to take, he learned some valuable lessons, how to slide and get low. It takes balance. He's a very dynamic athlete and we want him to use his skill set and use it to his advantage but, at the same time, he's gotten a little bit more mature with the ball and knows to protect himself."

    On Venric Mark's role on the team...
    "On offense, his role is more clearly defined. We have him in the backfield. We put him out at receiver to give him space and to start his career. As a high school running back, he was very effective at that. Going towards that last half of his career, we looked at where he stood and what our needs were and that's why we made the decision at the end of last year and put him at running back. He has really run with that and embraced it. Moving into his kicking game role, he's one of the best in the conference, if not in the country so he will continue to have that role. What I've liked the most about V[enric Mark] this fall in camp is his attitude. He's been tremendous; he's like a kid in a candy store out there. He's having fun and really trying to help the young guys."

    On the new experiences of the incoming freshmen class...
    "We're going to be practicing fast and hydration is pretty important. I think the whole freshman class is learning that. Also, you cannot put a value on the stress of being out there for the first time in a college practice. It's a fear of the unknown and I think they burn a lot of emotional and physical energy because of that. That's a challenge for all the young guys. I always say in recruiting that the intensity of our practice is the same as the practices before a state championship. We try and do a good job of educating the guys and we have great protocols in place. We also try to practice in the afternoon to give them time to hydrate and then a lot of time to recover."