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UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 22, 2009
COACH BREWSTER: In recapping the Cal game, you know, obviously there was extreme disappointment in losing the game. It was a game we expected to win. We put ourselves in position to win the football game. Tied game midway through the fourth quarter, and didn't make the critical plays down the stretch to beat Cal.
Again, like I said, the expectation of our football team, our coaches, was to win the football game. There wasn't anybody on our football team that didn't believe that we were gonna win the football game.
Again, as I told our team, we've gotten a lot of compliments about how we played in the game, you know, the effort that we made and that type of thing. That's not where we're at right now. You know, we're gonna go out and play hard each and every game. We're gonna do the things to put ourselves in positions to win games.
Again, it was a game that we had a great opportunities to win against an extremely strong opponent. I think that Cal is ranked No. 6 this week, and rightfully so. They've got an outstanding football team.
Again, we were really disappointed that we didn't do the things at the end of game when we had a chance to put ourselves really in a position to go in. We didn't make the plays necessary, and obviously my hat's off, compliments to Cal's football team for doing the things down the stretch that they had to do to win the football game.
But, again, I come out of the game with a tremendous sense of pride for our football team, for our players. They spilled their hearts on the football field on Saturday in a tremendous environment against, like I said, a great opponent, and put themselves in a position to go beat a really good football team.
That's the next step. That's the challenge is for our football team, to go win that football game against a top 10 opponent.
I certainly feel like our schedule is gonna help us do that. We're a battle-tested football team at this point. We played three really quality opponents in a nonconference schedule. The nonconference scheduling I think has helped us in a really big way. I think that'll serve us well as we enter into Big Ten play this weekend against Northwestern on the road.
As you look at it, you look to the depth chart going into Northwestern, and there's not a lot of changes. You know, really no changes offensively. Marcus Sherels will be back this week. He's full speed and ready to go play. That's obviously a real plus for our team. Blake Haudan will continue to be our punter. You know, and in a losing cause, we don't normally spend too much time talking about our player accomplishments, because the No. 1 thing we've got to do is win. But I really was impressed with Blake Haudan.
As I said at the press conference after the game against Cal, we found out 10:00 on Friday night that Danny Orseske wasn't gonna play. For Blake to step up and perform like he did, I just think was outstanding. It really is a bigtime plus for us to be able to replace an outstanding punter with an outstanding punter. So that's a very positive thing.
As far as the depth chart is concerned, there's nothing else there. Everybody else is ready to go, other than Mike Rallis, obviously. I announced after the ball game that Mike Rallis would be out for the rest of season. He has a cracked fibula in his leg. It's a non -- they're not having surgery on him. They're not gonna have to do surgery on him, but he's certainly gonna be out for the foreseeable future.
So as we look at Northwestern, obviously Northwestern is an excellent football team. It's just really exciting to open up Big Ten play. I think our road mentality is excellent. Our guys, you know, we have a 24-hour rule. You feel really badly about losing the game against Cal, and we take that through Sunday night at about 6:00 or 7:00, and then we've got to turn the switch and move forward.
That's what this football team has done. We'll meet this afternoon and begin preparations later this afternoon for Northwestern.
Again, it's a great challenge. Any time you go on the road in the Big Ten it's a great challenge. They've got a good football team. They had a similar opponent as we did in Syracuse, and they had a barn-burner the other night at Syracuse and Northwestern came up on the short end of that.
But they're got a good football team. Obviously they've got a good quarterback. The quarterback I think set and all-time record for completion percentage in a game. I think it was like 83% or something like that. He just good football player. Obviously we know he can run the ball. He's a good runner, so he presents problems to us. So we're gonna have to do a great job, another really good effort on the defensive end against a really good offensive football team.
Again, it's on the road. It's down there. We're excited about opening up the Big Ten. That's what it's all about in thins conference. Couldn't be more excited.
Q. (Question regarding Danny Orseske.)
COACH BREWSTER: Danny Orseske has mononucleosis. And from what I understand for our doctors, it's a 21-day period that he's gotta miss until he can come back. There's 21 days from when he's initially diagnosed with mono before he can return.
Q. What's so different about the Northwestern offense from last year?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, I just think that they're gonna throw the football. They're not running the ball a whole a lot, and so they're gonna spread the field and try to create match ups to their advantage. Again, they've got a good quarterback. Mike Kafka is probably their best runner and obviously he's a good thrower.
He knows where to go with the ball. If you pressure him, he gets the ball of the his hand pretty quickly. So I think that's probably the biggest difference from what we saw last year, is there was a little bit more running game probably than there is now. But they're still extremely efficient with what they're trying to do offensively.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH BREWSTER: You know, again, like I said they're a good offensive football team. We'll study them, and we have very closely, and we'll come up with a good game plan. I thought our coaches did a great job preparing for Cal, and the game plan that we had for Cal, I thought, gave us a chance to win the football game.
That's what we've got to do this week: give our players a chance with the plan to go out and be successful. That's what we'll do.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH BREWSTER: You know, obviously I think the nature of the quarterback position is you get too much credit when you win and too much blame when you lose. Adam Weber is an extremely self-critical football player, and that's a big reason why he's a good football player. He takes losses extremely hard, particularly when he feels like he was at fault in a situation.
But I don't -- you know, I'll take great care of Adam, because he's a heck after football player. He did some things to keep us in that football game, and so there's certainly plenty of other opportunities that affected the outcome of the game other than just one throw.
Q. How's Decker's health?
COACH BREWSTER: He's good. He's 100% ready to go. He ran with the team on Sunday, and we anticipate him to be full speed today.
Q. How much of a sense of revenge do you think some of the guys might feel after a loss last year?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, we've had two tough losses in a row to Northwestern. Two years ago down there we went into triple overtime, and then last year obviously losing the game on the last play.
So I don't know about revenge or anything like that. I just think that we want to go to and we want to go and play well against another good opponent. You know, I think what you got to look at to each year is a new opportunity, is a new game. So obviously we study history and we study the past, but we spend a whole a lot more time studying the future and the things we need to do this year to win the football game as opposed to past years.
Q. What's your plan for the Big Ten season for how you're gonna use MarQueis Gray?
COACH BREWSTER: I just think similar to the things that we have down do this point. There's situations that he's gonna come in and he's gonna do things to help our team. Really pleased with what he did against Cal. I thought he gave us a real lift in some situations and did some things.
As we continue to move forward, I think we'll incorporate him into more things. Whether it be as a wide receiver or as running back or as the quarterback, we have just got to utilize his talents. He's a very talented young guy.
Q. On the whole, how often would you like to see him the field?
COACH BREWSTER: I don't know that we put the a number on it. It's strictly situational. You know, where we think the situation is right for him to get in the game and help us, we'll use him.
Q. Can you talk about Brandon Green. Just about every pass he catches seems to be pretty crucial.
COACH BREWSTER: The trust factor with Brandon Green is extremely high. I think that's huge with any football player, is the trust factor you have for 'em. He's extremely dependable, he's in the right place, he does things right on a consistent basis. Obviously, as you can see, he's got outstanding hands. He catches the ball extremely well and he's a very competitive football player. He's very dependable, and he's a good player.
Q. Is it harder with the kids going back home for the first time?
COACH BREWSTER: I don't know. You know, I don't know -- I say that really good players rise up and meet the challenge, and I think lesser players maybe struggle with it a little bit maybe with the expectations.
But I don't think Brandon Green is one of those guys. Brandon Green is a very calm-demeanored guy. If you spent two minutes talking to him, you can see his blood pressure is not very high and he's not a very excitable kid. I think he'll go down to Chicago and play extremely well.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH BREWSTER: No, I just think that we faced a really good team. You know, I think most of our problems, you know, with the running game were due in large part to playing against really good players. They're the No. 6 ranked team in the country; last week they were No. 8. So I just give them credit. You know, they're really good at what they do, and they gave us some problems.
We're gonna keep working to improve the things we need to work on to get better across the board. Again, I couldn't have been more pleased with our offense and with our team to put themselves in position to have a tie football game midway through the fourth quarter against a great team.
Q. What do you think of the development the Jeff Wills?
COACH BREWSTER: I think Jeff Wills is just like the rest of the offensive line. We're working hard each and every day to get better and improve. He's doing some really good things and has done some very positive things.
There's obviously some plays where he hasn't. That's just not Jeff Wills. That could be any of 11 guys on the offensive football team. The strength of your opponent has a lot to do with maybe some areas in which you weren't quite as successful as you would of liked to have been.
Q. Where's Kevin Whaley been?
COACH BREWSTER: Kevin Whaley has a turf toe, and so he's missed some time because. Hopefully we'll get him back at some point here before too long.
Q. Do you think your team gained confidence from the Cal game even though you lost because of all that happened?
COACH BREWSTER: I think that you have to feel good about the fact that we played one of the better opponents in college football, and we played them extremely hard and tough. We put ourselves in a position to win the game, to realistically win the football game. That's all you can do.
Again, like I said, I really think it'll serve us well. I look at our team, and we're a fairly well battle-tested football team at this point. After three games, we've been in three tough battles against three quality opponents. I think that's gotta help you.
Q. Kafka has obviously developed as a passer. Do you think he's more dangerous as a runner or a passer at this point?
COACH BREWSTER: Obviously he was extremely accurate with the football the other night against Syracuse. He's really developed into an excellent quarterback. Last year he was more of a runner. Obviously completed some balls, but I think the running aspect of it was the thing that really hurt you the worst.
This year I think he looks like he's gotten better to the point where he's throwing the ball extremely well, and then you've got to constantly be concerned about what he can do with his feet. He's playing extremely well.
Q. Does Bryant Allen have any lingering impacts from that hit, wither physical or psychological?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, I haven't sat and talked to him about it. It was a very tough hit. It was a very tough hit. It was a hit that Jeff Tedford apologized to me about after the football game. He's a very resilient young guy. He's a guy that has great confidence. He goes back in the game, and obviously fields a tough punt. So I don't think there will be any residual effects from it, but it was a tough hit.
Q. I thought the amazing part of the game was you get behind 14-0, and you come back.
COACH BREWSTER: Well, I think that that's what we showed in three games. We're a team that's not gonna panic and flinch. We've got resolve and a competitive football team that is just gonna keep grinding and working. That's what we've done for three games.
In all -- in two games we found a way to win the games, in the third game we didn't quite do enough at the end to win the game. But from a competitive standpoint, we've got a good football team. After three games, I'm pleased with the progress of the football team. We've obviously improved, and what we gotta do as we go into the Big Ten schedule is improve each week.
Q. Your defensive adjustments at halftime in all three games was marvelous. What's going on?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, again, as coaches, our job is to see the game and see the things that the opponent is presenting to us and give our kids answers, to help our kids. I think also the team does a great job of settling into the game plan, settling in to what we're asking them to do.
Kevin and Ronnie have really done a good job defensively with our kids. The second half of the ballgame against Cal I think they rushed for 20 yards and really had a number of three and outs and just really was impressive on the defensive side. So I give credit to the coaches and also to the players. I think we've got a good group of players that understand the game plan and what we're trying to accomplish. You got to just keep grinding and working.
We knew that Cal was gonna come out fast in that game last Saturday. We knew they were gonna try to establish a tempo. We talked about weathering the storm, and that's exactly when we did. We weathered the storm and then did some things to help ourselves.
Q. Air Force and Cal had success running the ball against you guys. Do you think there's any sense that Northwestern might try to attack the ground more?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, I don't know what Northwestern's game plan is gonna be. I think we're a pretty stout team against a run, and I think we'll continue to be better and better as we move forward. I'd hate to venture a guess as to what their game plan is gonna be against us. Obviously they're gonna throw the ball.
We do know that. Whether or not they make a commitment to try to run the ball, we'll find on the Saturday.
Q. Is (indiscernible) the best running back you'll face all season?
COACH BREWSTER: He's really good. He did nothing in that game to make me think less of him. And I'll tell you what, what I really feel good about is the defense. In the second half, we did the things that we needed to do pretty much to slow him down. But he's really a good player.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH BREWSTER: You know, I think that we're just gonna continue to improve across the board defensively. We've got good defensive players, and I think we're doing a good job coaching them.
Again, each week you've got to restate who you are. Last week was last week, and that was a great opponent; now this week we gotta go back out and face a totally different style of opponent.
You know, this week the game is totally he spread across the whole field. So it's a different kind of game, but it's one in which we've gotta adjust to and go play.
Q. As you get ready to start the Big Ten, do you think from top to bottom that the conference is stronger than last year? Weaker? How do you see the conference?
COACH BREWSTER: As I've said all along, we've got a good conference. We've got good teams in this conference. I think there's great parity in this conference. I think that on any given Saturday, if your football team's preparation has been lacking throughout the course of the week and you go into the game not at your absolute best, you got a chance to lose.
To me, that's an exciting think for our conference and the teams in our conference. You know, you've got to be ready to play each and every week. If you're not, somebody is capable of beating you. I think that's a very positive thing about the conference, because top to bottom we've got a very solid conference.
Q. You played very different styles. You just mentioned Air Force to Cal and also Syracuse. How does that help you going forward knowing into the Big Ten season knowing you've seen a lot different kinds of football?
COACH BREWSTER: Just the ability of the coaches and players to adjust. I think that's a prerequisite for success. I really feel good about the teams that we've played in the nonconference and the way that our team has been challenged. We've been changed three straight weeks.
I like the way our team has responded to the challenges of each game to this point. Now we've got to make certain as we go into the Big Ten that we really step up our game and continue to improve.
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