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The Top 5 Things Pat Fitzgerald Said Following Northwestern's 21-7 Win Over Rutgers

Here's what Northwestern's head coach said following the Wildcats Week 7 contest.

Northwestern improved its record to 3-3 (1-2 Big Ten) following a 21-7 win over Rutgers in Evanston on Saturday. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald met with the media following the Week 7 victory. This is everything he had to say.

Opening statement:

"I'm really proud of the squad and the way they bounced back this game and these last couple of weeks. I thought they put a ton of work in to get better fundamentally, I thought they were really focused going into this weekend, and we were able to carry our preparation over into the game and be pretty consistent in the way that we executed fundamentally. I have a ton of respect for Coach Schiano and his staff as he gets into his second tenure there at Rutgers. We were really impressed with them on tape. You saw the way they played against a number of teams, and they're playing really good football, and they've had every opportunity to win those games, so they're going to be really successful down the road. But the way our defense bounced back this week and responded, especially up front -- the game that Adetomiwa (Adebawore) had, he was active all over, and the entire defensive line was much more active than we were in probably both the Nebraska and Michigan State games, so we're going to have to continue to see that from that group. And then offensively, a lot of explosive plays. We were able to get the ball down the field a little bit. We have to finish drives, we have to quit the self-inflicted wounds, but at the end of the day, to be able to get the win was great. It was awesome to see all of our alums back for homecoming. There was an electricity on campus starting Thursday night and then all the way through to today, so it's great to see everybody back. I cordially invite them back for every remaining home game and the game at Wrigley (Field), but I also want to give a big shout out to our students. Our student section was awesome again. I hope they had fun, I hope they have some good, clean, American fun tonight because I will with my teammates. It's great to see all those guys back, the coaches back, and their families. The lies that we're telling now are getting bigger and bigger and the fish stories are getting bigger and bigger, so it's an honor to be a part of that group and I'm proud to get a win in front of them."

On the benefits of the bye week:

"Well we got a win, so I think it helped a lot. We're done with the bye week, so we have to get back into the groove of the normal game week, which will go faster. For me personally, it seemed like those two weeks took forever. I made a statement when I was walking out of the locker room in Lincoln, (Nebraska), that I wish I could go back and play that game again right now. It just left a real sour taste in my mouth personally, and I thought the guys handled it really well and prepared really well."

On the defense's improvement:

"We've played some really good quarters in some games defensively, but this was probably our best game collectively as a defense. I think that group has a ton of pride, and we're getting a little bit more experienced as the season goes along. We still have to be better with our eyes, we still have to be better fundamentally, but there was a lot of positive growth today."

On QB Ryan Hilinski's performance:

"Any game a quarterback wins I'm pretty excited about, but without watching the tape... we're looking at 18 to 33, and there were a couple throwaways there, so probably 18 to 29, which is a pretty good day. We chart throwaways as good decisions, so we throw it out of our internal stats. But he's taking care of the ball. He's pressing the ball down the field and taking advantage of our matchups out there when we have a loaded box; Malik (Washington), Steph (Stephon Robinson), a lot of guys make a lot of huge, explosive plays. But the offensive line has to protect, the tight ends have to do their thing, and the running backs have to do their thing too for Ryan to be able to have that type of success down the field. So, I think he played great, but I know he's nowhere close to being satisfied."

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On bouncing back from a 2-3 start:

"To start a fire, you have to have a spark, and you hope for the last half of the year that this is the spark that starts a fire, that gets them understanding just how good that feeling is in that locker room downstairs right now. You fight your tail off in a game, but it all goes back to the week long of preparation to get that reward on Saturday afternoon with the win. It makes everything worth it. We've kind of been our own worst enemy here for the first half of the season, and I gave them a little thing during the bye week -- a big ol' picture of a windshield, and little, small picture of a rearview mirror, and that rearview mirror is the first half of the season. I just felt like this is the start of a second season fi we approach it that way. One game in, and we're back to .500. We needed a win, and we needed a Big Ten win, and we got both, so that was important."

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