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Players' Perspective: Northwestern Players Address Week 1 Loss to Michigan State

Northwestern QB Hunter Johnson, TE Trey Pugh, and S Brandon Joseph break down Friday's 38-21 loss to Michigan State.

A trio of Northwestern athletes met with the media following Saturday's 38-21 loss to Michigan State. Here's what quarterback Hunter Johnson, superback Trey Pugh, and safety Brandon Joseph had to say about the game.

QB Hunter Johnson

On his overall review of the Wildcats' first game:

"It's been a long time coming, coming out for this first game. We've been preparing really hard this offseason and this fall. I just tried to go out and execute the offense. I thought guys did a great job. There were just a few plays here and there where a miscommunication or, whatever the case may be, a missed assignment, that kind of hurt us and either backed us up or hurt us down in the red zone. So, a lot of stuff that we can fix, but it was definitely a very promising first game, I thought we did a lot of things really well." 

On the depth of the running backs room following Cam Porter injury: 

"We've got a lot of confidence in our running backs. With Drew [Andrew Clair] and Evan [Hull] and Tyus [Anthony Tyus III], all those guys. We've got a lot of confidence in those guys. They can go out and make plays. I'm excited — I'm excited for that group. It's a lot of guys that are new to the team and are getting their first reps, so stuff's going to happen in the first game, but I thought they did some really good things tonight. I'm excited about it."

On assessing his own play:

"There's a lot of stuff to fix. A lot of stuff from a communication aspect and from a personal, just being on the same page with my guys. There were some places that were left out there. I think there's room to improve. There's definitely room to improve."

 talk about the pros can you just talk about your confidence, and how you think as a manifest. Yeah no I was really really excited for those guys and the way they played tonight. Got a lot of confidence in both those guys. They're guys that I trusted to go and make plays and be able to stretch the field, and then catch 

On Northwestern's wide receiver performance: 

I was really excited for those guys and the way they played tonight. I've got a lot of confidence in both of those guys on the edge. They're guys that I trust to go up and make plays and be able to stretch the field, and then catch, break a tackle, and get yards after the catch. I have a ton of confidence in those guys. They're very, very talented. I thought they showed that tonight, but just didn't get the win. 

On his two fumbles: 

"I had to clear the running back a little bit further to allow myself to throw it. I just stopped it my arm ... The snap was a cadence thing. Things we can fix."

S Brandon Joseph

On assessing his own play:

"It wasn't up to my standard. Right now it looks like I had eight tackles, but that's not what I expect from myself. I expect to make more plays. But then it's not about me, it's about the defense and we didn't do what we needed to do to win tonight. So we're going to go back and figure out what we did wrong and we're going to work on it."

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On missed tackles:

"It's something that we don't expect from ourselves. Tackling is one of the fundamental things that we work on every single day and something that we've been working on all camp. We're just going to analyze reasons why we missed tackles, why plays weren't being made ,and why these big plays were busting. We're going to go check on that, but tackling is a thing that we take privately so the performance we had tackling tonight wasn't to par."

On why the defense struggled to force turnovers:

"Michigan State is a good team. They had a game plan too ... They weren't just throwing all the balls to me. I didn't get many attempts, a lot of my DBs didn't get many attempts. But plays were made, DB-wise we tried to prevent the deep shots which we did for the most part, other than one or two plays. Turnovers, they come when your opportunity comes in. We didn't get enough of those opportunities and at the same time we have got to create more of those opportunities, because it's something that we expect from ourselves and our defense, to create turnovers. Like I said, we're going to dive into this and figure out why those turnovers weren't there and what different ways we can scheme up more."

TE Trey Pugh

On scoring two TD's in first game back after a year of injury:

"It was selflishly very exciting. I'm surely just grateful just be back on the field. To have the opportunity to be out here, to go to practice every day. To do what I love at the potential that I'm capable of really feels great, but I'm a little bummed about the loss. I'm just grateful to be back out on the field and playing ball with my guys." 

On connecting with QB Hunter Johnson:

"Hunter's obviously very talented. As an offense, we had those explosive plays. I think we were firing on not all cylinders, but we were firing pretty well as a whole. I think we're right there where we want to be, but the red zone was killing us. We've got to find a way to execute and finish those drives. We made four trips down there to the red zone. We're right there and we've got to turn those into points. That killed us today."

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