Post-Game Quotes


Nov. 17, 2007

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On the seniors...
"I'm so happy and proud of our senior class. It is special because of all they have gone through. I want the two previous graduating classes to know that they were the foundation for our success. This year's class has set the bar and now it's up to the younger guys to continue to build on their success."

On the team's focus heading into the game...
"We told our guys all week long that it's a sixty minute game. We came out strong at the start of the game and then kept our composure after the half to keep control of the game. We knew that Northwestern is a good team and we showed we can bounce back after a big win today."

On quarterback Juice Williams...
"Juice is a guy who's going to continue to improve. Sometimes all of us forget that he's only a sophomore. As he continues to mature he is going to see defenses better and we will benefit from his experiences these first two seasons."

On wide receiver Jeff Cumberland...
"Moving Jeff from tight end to X (receiver) has been a good move for us. I had a long talk with him before we made the move to make sure he was going to be comfortable and do what he needed to do to be successful. He has great speed and athleticism that really gives us another threat within the offense."

On leadership of J Leman...
"I had a couple of seniors talk to the team last night about the importance of this game. I thought it was important that some guys who have been here for four or five years talk about beating Northwestern. J was the last guy to talk and his passion for the game, his teammates and this university is remarkable. Obviously, J has been a great player for us and this program is indebted to him."

On the turning point of the season for the team...
"After the Missouri game, I said we had had enough close games and we were going to push the guys to get the job done. We did that, they responded and we have been on our way."

On the rivalry...
"It is important to look at traditions and remember what they have meant to people through time. Sometimes it's hard to explain that to an 18- or 20-year-old. It may not mean as much to them now as it does to a 50- or 60-year-old who has been there in the past, but one day it will. It has been a while since we have had rivalry trophies around here and it's pretty special they are back with us."


Senior Justin Harrison

On his last game at Memorial Stadium:
"It's a great feeling. Coming out of high school and from this area, my last high school game was here and I remember standing on the podium accepting the runner-up award. So it's a great feeling to go out on top with the guys I've been struggling with for four years and with the guys I love. When you get the kind of team we have and all the pieces come together, you can get a magical season."

On having to wait to play the bowl game:
"We will stay focused because we are a senior-led team. We have so many guys who have anticipated this moment so we have to enjoy it. It will be easy to stay focused because we know we still have one football game left. We have to stay focused if we want to win."

Senior J Leman:

On his last game at Memorial Stadium:
"I just know how much these fans and the program have meant to me. The stuff we've been through has been very tough. Walking off that field at 9-3 was all worth it."

On beating Northwestern for the first time in his career:
"It feels great. We have waited four years to win the game, and now we finally got it."

On playing in a bowl game:
"Now I can finally talk about it. We've earned it. I don't know where we're going. I'll let the committees figure that out."

Sophomore Juice Williams

On having time off before the bowl game:
"I'm pretty sure, myself included, that guys on this team need a break from football. That happens - your body gets worn out and you get tired. So to have a week off and just relax is the best situation."

On the team playing its best at the end of the season:
"I think we're playing pretty good. We have a few things that we need to clean up, but overall we're doing pretty good."

Senior Martin O'Donnell:

On playing in a bowl game:
"There's a tremendous sense of pride. We've been through a lot of hard times and our fans have been through a lot of hard times. This year has been great so far, but we have one game left. Nobody wants to go out a loser."

On winning the Tomahawk back:
"It's great. Guys my age, we've seen four senior classes walk off the field without it. So it was great to finally get the Tomahawk back and to walk off the field with a win."

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald

Opening statement on seniors...
"These were 19 men who meant an incredible amount to our football program. What they have gone through as men over the last four or five years is almost unheard of. To have a tremendous attitude and keep fighting and battling, I could not be more proud of them. Who knows where things are going to go, but when they turn a new chapter on their lives, they are prepared."

On today in light of the season...
"Any time you lose, and right now we've got six losses, you look back on the entire body of the season. It was tough today. On the road early on, we needed to go out there and make some plays and compete with them, and obviously, from the outcome, we didn't do that."

On the immediate future...
"We'll find out what happens. We're bowl eligible. I'm proud of our seniors. They kept battling. We didn't play very well early, but we kept battling."

On today's game...
"We didn't tackle very well. We got away from who we are and the way we practiced all week. Credit the Illini. They played extremely well. We had opportunities to get the job done, but we didn't. Put that on the coaches. They didn't do anything new today. They didn't do anything we hadn't prepared for. As a coach, that's my job."


Wide receiver Eric Peterman

On today's game...
"I was very disappointed in today's game. I wanted to win this game more than any game I've ever been a part of. Looking back at the game it's really frustrating because it was a do-or-die situation. We didn't come to play today and Illinois outplayed us. They had a great game."

On the penalties today...
"I noticed today that there were a lot more penalties in the game. We usually take pride in being the least penalized team. The flags on us today could be from the lack of discipline out on the field. The Wildcats take pride in being a disciplined team and making smart plays which we did not do today."

Running back Tyrell Sutton

On the preparation for the game...
"We might have been too ready for this game or not ready enough. Our mindset was to go hard or go home, but we just had too many mistakes today."

Defensive lineman John Gill

On the season...
"The season was full of ups and downs. A lot of big wins and some disappointing losses. We improved from last year and that's all we can ask for. The seniors really laid the foundation for our team."