Post-Game Quotes: Northwestern
 
 
 

 

 
 

Nov. 23, 2013

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Michigan State at Northwestern
November 23, 2013
Ryan Field • Evanston, Ill.
Attendance: 40,013

Michigan State Quotes

Head Coach Mark Dantonio

Opening statement...
"I want to congratulate our football team. Ten wins. Legends [Division] champions and as we go forward it's exciting times. We've talked about there being moments that we'd remember for the rest of our lives and I think that's what is happening for us so we just need to continue and press on.

"I thought our football team played very, very well. Tough first quarter when we have the wind and we don't score in the first quarter. We're down I think 3-0 and then we come back in the second quarter. Big run by Langford obviously. Then you bounce back with a great catch by Bennie Fowler with a big touchdown. So we go in at halftime ahead and we came out and just continued to do what we do. Offense did a good job: no turnovers, ran the ball effectively, threw the ball very effectively. Big catches by Lippett and by Keith Mumphery and by Aaron Burbridge. I can't remember who else. Obviously, Josiah Price on the touchdown. Another big run by Langford put it out of reach. Defense threw a shut out in the second half, excellent job by our defense. They went for less than 100 yards [rushing] so that's a big positive. Very windy, very cold out there, but our special teams played solid. I thought we maintained in special teams. [Mike] Sadler did a great job punting against the wind with some rugby type punts, but great job.

"Very happy for our team. Very happy for our program and everybody associated with it. Like I said, we got a hat on. Hopefully we want to wear this hat for a couple of weeks and we'll trade it in, but we will see. That's what makes things so special."

On the maturity of his team...
"This is a different type of football team than we've had. We've got some guys that didn't play much last year like [Jeremy] Langford, like Connor Cook for example, like Josiah Price for example. Even some of our wide receivers didn't have the year that they hoped to have last year. We were right where we were at and [the defense] carried us the first couple of games, but since then the offense has sort of flourished and we've got playmakers on our offensive side of the ball. We've become a balanced football team and we're playing well on special teams as well so we keep getting better and better as we move forward and that's what is important in November. We are 3-0 right now in November. The stakes do continue to get higher. I feel like we're playing for a BCS game next week. We'll worry about the championship game the week after. There is no reason to play that game this week. We need to play Minnesota this week, send our seniors out for their last game at Spartan Stadium. There needs to be a great crowd out there. This is something special that doesn't always happen -- an opportunity to win 11 games. Then we'll take it from there."

On if he feels personal gratification from this season in comparison to last year's...
It's not always about winning and losing for me. I took great satisfaction last year when we came back and bounced back and won the bowl game and won at Minnesota the last game to get into a bowl game. So, it's about how the team handles themselves. It's about how we perform every week and be resilient. That's what it's about. The wins and the losses they're going to come and they're going to go, but it's the relationships with the players. It's those things that are most meaningful. So that's where I get my gratification from. The wins and losses, yeah, you've got to have those. I'm not naïve to that process and it's a lot more fun to win, but there are some lessons in losing too, and you regroup and you move forward. I'm very proud of the fact that we've won 10 games, but it will be how we finish. In the end it will be how we finish."

Michigan State Player Quotes

RB Jeremy Langford
On winning the division...
"We're excited about it. We've been working for it all season and all summer. That's been one of our goals. We've still got our goals ahead of us, and we just have to keep going and win. At the beginning of the season, we weren't the most popular team. In our room, we stayed positive. Now we're doing well, and our room is still staying positive. We just keep moving forward and keep winning."

On his performance...
"I knew the wind was going to be a factor in the game. Coach (Dantonio) said we were going to pound, and that's what we did. The receivers made plays too. Linemen did a great job blocking just like they've been doing all season."

On getting stronger as the game went on...
"That's just something you have to do as a running back. You have to close out games. They need you to run the clock down. That's what I want to do. That's the situation I want to be in. That's what I've been doing the last couple of games."

On running in the cold...
"When you're out there, it doesn't feel as cold. On the sideline it was cold, but we won. I'm happy, and I'm warm."

DB Darqueze Dennard

On how it feels to be Legend Division champions...
"It feels good. There is a lot of hard work that we put in through the offseason and all the work we put in this season. Winning this game and knowing we're going to Indianapolis is a great feeling. This is just a great feeling. We knew then (during media days) what type of team we had. During the summer, we had to mold each other. We had to get closer than we were and finish games. It's a great feeling right now, seeing it all come together. Seeing all of our goals in front of us is just a great feeling."

On defensive adjustments at halftime...
"We made a lot of adjustments. The coaches do a great job of giving us adjustments and finding out what the other team is doing to beat us and finding out how to stop it. It's a great job by the coaching staff. We know what our coaches can do. We just play off what they say."

On the impact of Kain Colter's injury for the defense...
"It changed a lot. He can do a lot of things for their offense. He plays quarterback but also receiver and running back as well. When he was out, it was kind of a plus for us because we knew their backup is pretty much a passing quarterback. We knew that, and he wasn't as dangerous as Colter at running the ball. When Colter went out, we knew what we had to deal with. It was good for us overall."

On success in Big Ten play...
"After the loss to Notre Dame, we all took great things. We didn't take the negatives out of the game. We made adjustments toward the end of the season. I think we all made adjustments and we all knew what we were playing for. The Big Ten season is a lot more serious. A non-conference game can't stop us from going to Indianapolis. We knew all of our goals were still in front of us. We didn't dwell on that loss. We got focused and took it one game at a time. That's how we ended up here."

QB Connor Cook
On throwing in the wind...
"The coaches put us in a good situation. We weren't trying to air it out a whole lot, but used a lot of intermediate throws that couldn't get caught up in the wind. I know before the game everyone was saying how windy it was going to be. I remember coming out before the game and seeing it was gusty, but I didn't think it was horrible. I think as long as you can throw a good spiral you will be okay in the wind."

On clinching the division...
"It's a great feeling. I'm so happy and so proud of the guys we have on offense for all the criticism we took early on in the year. We put our heads down and worked so hard the whole year and didn't let any of the harsh words from the media and the fans get to us, and we just kept working. I'm proud of us and proud of the offensive linemen for keeping me protected all year. Coach [Dave] Warner has done a great job calling plays ever since Big Ten play started, even before then. He has put me in good situations out there on the field. We've still got one game left in the regular season. We want to win that. We want to go undefeated in the Big Ten. We're not looking ahead to Indianapolis just yet. We're going to take it one game at a time like we have all year."

Northwestern Quotes
Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald

Opening Statement...
"First of all I want to talk about the seniors. I want to thank them for four or five great years of commitment, sacrifice of the normal college experience, leadership and a ton of success that has laid the foundation for the future of our program. Obviously the year hasn't gone the way any of us wanted, especially for those 14. We also want to thank our student athletic trainers who are up here every morning, our equipment managers -- they're part of a tight knit group that's here every morning and are seniors who had their final game at Ryan Field. We thank them for everything that they've done and everything they've meant to our program.

"We've got one more with them and that will be what our focus is, to go out there and battle our in-state rival for the Land of Lincoln trophy. To our opponent today I want to congratulate Coach Dantonio and his staff on a conference championship on our side of the division. To play the way that they have after a year last year like they went through -- I'm not surprised, Mark is a great coach, a terrific coach, and I want to congratulate those guys. They made the plays they needed down the stretch to kind of put this game away. Congratulations to them."

On what major factors were different this year from last...
"I wish we had the health that we had a year ago. We were a really fortunate football team a year ago. Close games, not [like] this one but others, we were able to win because we had all the weaponry on all three phases. We had some guys step up. I thought the guys really fought hard to do it; we have to do a better job as a staff. I think we've not done a great job as a staff because the next guys who had to go in weren't able to continue playing at the level the last guys were playing at."

On looking to next year...
"You look at your skillset, you think to the future and what you've got coming back and what you've got as a healthy team and you make your tweaks and your changes schematically. The guys, for the most part, have really stepped up well. You get some guys dinged up with that group too, so that's where you get frustrated for the guys. They're battling, they're giving everything they've got. The [2013 season] is over in a week and good riddance."

On red zone offense...
"Jeff [Budzien} has had a terrific season. He'll be the first to deflect praise and give it to Brandon [Williams] getting it down and Pat [Hickey] snapping it. He's had an All-Big Ten, All-American, Lou Groza [Award]-type of year. He's really been spectacular, we're really proud of the job he's done.

"You've got to be able to run the ball in the red zone, especially inside the 10. That was a year ago what we were able to do, we were able to score a lot of touchdowns because we were able to run the football. We've not been able to do that consistently enough."

On how tough a year it's been...
"To see our guys not have success is always tough, no matter how many times you end up unsuccessful, so that I think is one aspect of it. To keep things in perspective I think is more important, I think we've gone through a lot of challenges here but have been able to stick through it and persevere. I think this will be an incredible motivator for our entire program going into the off-season. For the coaching staff to be able to correct the things that we can correct, the training staff to be able to improve our strength, especially at the point of attack on both lines, especially on the offensive line we've got to really improve our strength there, but we're young and those guys will get stronger and improve. I think from the standpoint of motivation we have a standard of excellence here, we have an expectation of playing in the postseason and competing for championships. We'll take a look at a lot of things we've done, a lot of things we did to prepare the team a year ago and we'll start there and break it down and create a plan to get the guys back to where we think we need to be."

Northwestern Players

DL Tyler Scott
On losing seven straight...
"It's definitely been a rough experience. You never want to lose a game, but to lose seven in a row, it's challenging. The thing about our team, though, we've persevered and we've fought every game. We've been in a lot of them. Today wasn't that same way, but we've persevered and our attitudes haven't changed. That's the one thing I'll remember about this team."

On the mood in the locker room...
"It's tough, I mean, anytime you lose to that magnitude, it's never a good feeling. He [Coach Fitzgerald] just told us to commit to going 1-0 next week and to give it all we have, because that's all we have left in this year. For our seniors, it's our last go-around in a Northwestern uniform."

QB Trevor Siemian
On how decisions are made to go for it on fourth down...
"I think everybody on offense usually wants to go for it; that's the mentality most of the time. A lot of times we're out there on the field and we get our chance to huddle up, but at the end of the day, it's the coach's [decision]."

On Kain Colter's injury...
"The [MSU defender] had a good lick on him. It's really tough for Kain, I felt for him on Senior Day, especially. He didn't get the chance to finish his career here [at Ryan Field] the way he wanted to."

On throwing the ball in this cold weather...
"It was tough. It was probably the hardest I've had to throw in any weather. I'm from Florida, so I'm a sissy when it comes to that stuff [joking]. It was tough, but it's the same for everybody."

On the team's motivation next week...
"We're looking to send our seniors out on a positive note. We have one more crack at it next week. [It's a] rivalry game, so [we want to] send those guys out the right way."