Northwestern head football coach Pat Fitzgerald was understandably very pleased with his team’s effort against No. 10 ranked Wisconsin this weekend.
Despite coming into the match-up as the underdogs in many people’s eyes, Northwestern established itself as a legit force with a 17-7 victory.
Following the game, Fitzgerald opened up about how he felt regarding his team’s performance.
“We still gotta play better,” he said.
“We gotta take care of the ball, we can’t fumble the ball on the goal line. That’s a huge swing in momentum. That’s a huge swing in the game early against a great team. That can’t happen.
“I couldn’t see what happened on the play but at the end of the day we’ve gotta take care of the ball, especially down in the scoring zone. We’ve gotta be able to run the ball more efficiently. They made it tough sledding and it looked like we were a block away, it looked like we got tackled one-on-one a bunch tonight,” he continued.
“Again, I’m gonna give a ton of credit to Wisconsin. We’re gonna start with us as coaches. Look at the schemes, look at the fundamentals, look at the technique, look at what they did to attack us and then look at the personnel. We’ve got competition in the backfield, those guys have got to produce.
“I’m not ready to pass any judgments right now personally, I’ve gotta watch the tape and assess the run game but we’ve got to be better there if we want to continue to get better.”
One thing Fitzgerald was particularly proud of, however, was the five turnovers his group caused.
“We just do what we do,” he said.
“You fall back on your training buddy. We work at it every day. There’s not a defense in the country that doesn’t talk about taking the ball away. There’s not a defense in the country that doesn’t work at it every single day and preach it every single day.
“It’s a big correlation to victory, there’s no question, but you gotta score points off those turnovers. We had a number of not even moving the ball after a turnover, so again, credit Wisconsin. That’s an outstanding football team that we just beat. We expected this. This wasn’t something that was surprising to anybody in our program,” he continued.
“You fall back to your training, you fall back to the way that you prepare. This group has got an amazing camaraderie, an amazing brotherhood. This wasn’t an upset tonight in our locker room, we fully expected this.
“When I visited with the broadcast crew yesterday they said, ‘You seem awfully confident.’ I said, ‘Our guys have put in the work to put themselves in the position to play an outstanding opponent, and now we gotta go out and make it happen.’ To our young men’s credit and our staff’s credit, we were able to do that.”
Next up Northwestern will face off against Michigan State this Saturday.