Football Notebook: Don’t expect Pat Fitzgerald to be honest about injuries


Alison Albelda/Daily Senior Staffer

Isaiah Bowser carries the football. Bowser's status for Saturday's game is unknown.

Peter Warren, Print Managing Editor


With the status of sophomore running back Isaiah Bowser and senior cornerback Trae Williams unknown after they both left the Stanford game, coach Pat Fitzgerald did not provide any further information at Monday’s press conference.

Fitzgerald said both are “running around” — the same thing he said Thursday about Bowser — and that an injury report will come out Thursday.

College football coaches are known for being tight lipped about injuries, and Fitzgerald is no exception. He is not required to be open about the injuries, and said it was fun to be secretive.

“I promise you I will not be honest,” Fitzgerald said. “Is that okay?”

How Pat Fitzgerald spent his Saturday

Instead of spending his Saturday morning preparing for a college football game at Ryan Field, Fitzgerald spent his first few hours this past Saturday on a different football field in the Chicagoland area.

“My son Jack had a game Saturday so I got a chance to go watch him play in the morning, which was great,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t get a chance to do that very often in the fall.”

Fitzgerald added that Jack played well and his team won the game. After that, he had some family time, had friends over for dinner and watched football.

He noted that he “laughed at everybody else making mistakes” and really enjoyed watching the games. Contests with Big Ten teams get priority in his house, and the closer the game the better.

“I’m not in a hurry to enjoy Saturdays in the fall as a fan, but at some point I will,” Fitzgerald said. “I can see why people dig it, it’s fun.”

Hunter Johnson ready to step up

The season opener against Stanford was not the first time sophomore quarterback Hunter Johnson had a subpar performance. Having a bad game is part of football, he said, and all he can do is learn from his mistakes and move on.

“It’s all about responding,” Johnson said. “The team needs me to respond. That’s what I plan to do.”

Johnson said he something he needed to work on after the game was his footwork, as his “sporadic” feet resulted in lesser mechanics.

Fitzgerald is not worried about his starting signal caller, saying he is “100 million percent” confident in the Indiana native. Junior wide receiver Riley Lees added Johnson’s competitiveness will lead both the team and himself to great success.

“There’s a lot of fire in how he plays,” Lees said. “Obviously, he wants to win but I think that he’s got that little bit of edge that is gonna help us as an offense go.”

Johnson praises former teammates Trevor Lawrence and Kelly Bryant

Johnson said he watched highlights of his former school Clemson’s 24-10 victory over Texas A&M and Missouri’s 38-7 victory over West Virginia. The Tigers are currently led by graduate transfer Kelly Bryant, who Johnson backed up at Clemson in 2017.

While the trio does not have an active group chat at the moment, Johnson noted they were all together at the Manning Passing Academy this past summer and is happy for each of them.

“We’re all supporting each other and rooting for each other,” Johnson said. “They’re just good dudes, really good guys, on and off the field.”

JR Pace talks about safety pairing

After starting the final five games of the 2018 season together, junior safety JR Pace and junior Travis Whillock are off to a great start in 2019.

Whillock snagged a team-high 10 tackles against Stanford while Pace tied for third with six tackles. This comes after Pace finished with the third-most tackles on the team and Whillock fourth-most last season.

Pace said he loves playing with Whillock and called the Texas native “a baller.”

“I think we play off each other pretty well,” Pace said. “We’re continuing to build our relationship on and off the field.”

Off the football field, Pace said they hang out all the time and even went on Spring Break to Miami together.

“It was fun,” Pace said, “but that’s all I’ll say on that.”

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