Chicago Colleges: Jarrell Williams

Spring Q&A: Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald

March, 6, 2012
3/06/12
10:16
AM CT
Spring football is under way at Northwestern, which returned to the practice field Saturday. The Wildcats say goodbye to a decorated senior class, which included quarterback Dan Persa, and must fill several key spots on both sides of the ball. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald has an emphasis on learning and fostering new chemistry on the team, as the Wildcats' leadership features several new faces. The 2012 season will be crucial for Northwestern, which has reached four consecutive bowl games but also seen its wins total drop every year since 2008.

ESPN.com recently caught up with Fitzgerald. Here are his thoughts:

What have been some of your emphasis points from the end of the bowl game and your objectives in spring ball?

[+] EnlargePat Fitzgerald
Reid Compton/US PresswirePat Fitzgerald, the Wildcats' coach since 2006, led Northwestern to a 6-7 record last season.
Pat Fitzgerald: Every year you look for ways you can improve and build upon your past, but it's always a new team. Obviously, we've got a lot of young men that graduated who were very dynamic for us over the last four years, multiyear starters who laid a tremendous foundation of success for our program. Now you have to come together with this team and number one, we want to build better chemistry with this team. Eight of our 12 leadership council members, it's their first year, so it's kind of indicative of trying to forge the chemistry, player to player.

Is it a better chemistry or a new chemistry?

PF: Every time you get to the offseason, you fall into that trap, is it better or worse? More importantly, it's always new. It's new guys jelling, guys assuming new roles and the natural progression. The guys have done a tremendous job. I look forward to watching to see how we do when somebody punches you back in football.

Were you surprised at how last season turned out? Some guys were talking about contending for a Big Ten title and you end up at 6-7.

PF: Well, we had a tough five-game stretch. That overshadows anything else that we did. What we look at it is we stayed the course and fought through it. You can point back to multiple plays and calls on our end and what we did schematically as coaches, you vet through all that stuff and you look at how close we were. It's easy to point blame and point fingers. It's more important to create some solutions and through that, you always start with the way you're teaching and coaching, and what you're asking guys to do schematically. Are we playing to their strengths? Because of maybe a little youth and inexperience, are we asking them to try to do too much? And I thought we adjusted. Obviously, you don't want to go through what we went through, and it was our fault. You look back and say, we adjusted, but did we adjust fast enough? Hindsight's always 20-20, but you learn from it, you grow and then you educate the guys on why it happened and how we're going to be stronger moving forward. What did we win, four of our last six games? So we finished strong. Obviously, you'd love to have back the last one here at home. And in the bowl game, we played two really good quarters and two quarters that beat ourselves, so we've got a lot to learn from. I wouldn't say I was surprised. No matter what you predict, you never know how it's going to go.

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Richards' Williams commits to Wildcats

February, 18, 2010
2/18/10
4:04
PM CT

Nothing gets Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald going like a recruit committing.

On Wednesday, Richards junior Jarrell Williams got a taste of that when he phoned Fitzgerald to let him he know he was becoming Northwestern's first 2011 commitment.

"He was fired up," said Williams on Thursday. "That's his favorite thing to say: he's fired up. He told everyone in the office, and everyone was happy that I was jumping onboard as a Wildcat."

Read the full story.

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