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UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 29, 2009
COACH BREWSTER: Start off, just it was very pleasing to go on the road last week and open up the Big Ten schedule on the road with a good win over Northwestern.
We're very understanding that it's one win in the Big Ten, and nothing more and nothing less. We're 1-0 in the Big Ten, and that's exactly where we wanted to be after week one.
We did some very positive things in all three phases. I think we'll be able to build off what we accomplished in the Northwestern game. I'm really pleased with our football team through the first four weeks of the season we've played and continuing to improve on the things that we've emphasized each and every week. Our players have done a nice job.
As far as awards for the Northwestern game, the offensive player of the week really did a nice job. 21 carries, 89 yards, three touchdowns, Duane Bennett. Really nice to see him play as well as he did.
Defensive player of the week is a young guy from Chicago. Meant a lot to him to go home and play well. He had two solo tackles, three assists, a tackle for a loss, a strip, a sack, and three quarterback pressures, Eric Small.
Special forces player of the week did a really nice job. He's extremely composed returning puts. Had a punt return for 22 yards. One of the things we knew we were gonna have to do against Northwestern to be successful is field the Rugby-style punts and field all their punts. I thought that Bryant Allen did a tremendous job of fielding punts and making decisions. Saved us a lot of quality yards by catching the football. And then again on the return that he had, he was excellent. So our special forces player of the week was Bryant Allen.
Our hard hat hit of the week was Barrett Moen on Cedric McKinley's strip. Barrett did a great job on the quarterback. The quarterback hit, so Barrett Moen gets the hard hat hit of the week.
Our lunch pail award, I think this is very fitting, goes to our offensive line, our tight ends, and our fullbacks. Those guys just did a great job in the football game helping our running game get going, and for the most part, doing a great job of taking care of Adam Weber. So the lunch pail award will go to the big guys up front.
The extra effort award is being shared. Really exciting to see young freshman defensive end, D.L. Wilhite come of the edge in an absolute critical situation and get after the football. Not necessarily get after the quarterback, but get after the football and make a huge play in the game. Tremendous effort by him.
We share that award with D.J. Burris. He did a really nice job stepping in and playing for us. He had a play in protection that he really did a great job of saving us and Adam from getting the sack. It was just a tremendous effort by D J. So both of those guys share the extra effort award.
The great teammate award -- and he should probably win an award each and every week. He's as fine a young guy that I've been around playing at an extremely high level. I think this award fits him as well as anybody. Eric Decker wins our great teammate award.
Scout offensive player the week, young freshman from Miami. Did a great job helping us prepare last week. He's really gonna be a good football player for us, Victor Keise.
Scout defensive player of the week is another young guy from Pompano in Florida and is developing into a good football player, Eric Jacques. He's the defensive scout team player the week.
All the awards are very meaningful, particularly when you go on the road in the Big Ten and you win a football game. Everybody, I think, understands how hard that is to do. All these guys stepped up and did a great job last week, and certainly the scout team players did a great job helping us prepare.
As you look at this week's game against Wisconsin it's gonna be a fun week. It's a fun week for our players and for the fans. But what I'm most excited about is for the fans. For 28 years our fans have waited to get back home on campus and play a rivalry game like this against Wisconsin for Paul Bunyan's axe. I just think it's gonna be such a great environment on Saturday. Again, I'm just really excited for our fans as we play a home game on campus against Wisconsin for the axe.
I know our fans are gonna show up in a big way, and it's gonna be a tremendous atmosphere on Saturday at TCF Stadium. We all understand the rivalry and what the game means. There's not gonna have to be a lot of motivational tactics this week, that type of thing.
Our football team knows that Wisconsin is a good football team, that the rivalry has been intact for a long time. So the thing that I'm gonna talk to our football team about this week as we prepare for Wisconsin is just the execution of what we're trying to accomplish, and doing a great job on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in the preparation.
Preparation has allowed us to be a successful football team to this point, and it'll help us on Saturday. Wisconsin is an excellent football team. Their 4-0 record indicates what type of football team they have. They're a balanced football team offensively. Defensively they are very fundamentally sound and they give up very few explosive plays. They just do a very solid job.
I think their special teams are good. You know, I've been impressed watching the video of Wisconsin. To me, it's a very similar Wisconsin football team to the ones we've seen throughout years. Again, very physical. They've got big runningbacks and they're getting excellent quarterback play. They've got an outstanding offensive line. So again, I think it's similar to what we've seen in the past. They're just playing at a very high level.
What it's gonna take for us, again, we talk about a three-phase victory. I feel like what we've done to this point, is in all three phases we have been very strong as a football team: Offense, defense, and special forces. That's what it's gonna take for us to do a nice job on Saturday, is in all three phases execute and do a great job.
Q. Why are you playing a rivalry game so early in the season? Usually they are later in the season.
COACH BREWSTER: That's just how it's worked out. We have a couple very big rivalry games here at Minnesota obviously everybody knows. I'd like to see a little separation again between the rivalry games, so I think it's a positive thing to play Wisconsin early.
We've got Iowa down the road, so I look at that really as a plus.
Q. How do the preparations change planning for such a big rivalry?
COACH BREWSTER: We try not to change anything. That's the thing that we try to do here, is very consistently go about our preparation. Our guys don't question and wonder what we're gonna be doing. They know exactly our plan, exactly how we go about our daily process. I think that "consistency" is a word that can't be overused. We want to be very consistent with how we prepare.
Again, like I said, our kids are gonna be motivated to play this week. Our focus is gonna be outstanding. Everybody's senses are gonna be heightened a little bit. Again, it makes it fun. This week is a fun week for a coach. You don't have to do a whole a lot to get them out the door.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH BREWSTER: You know what, those that aren't familiar with the rivalry probably downplay it a little bit nationally. I've been around some really big rival football games, and I think this is as good as it gets. I've been part of the Texas/Oklahoma rivalry, and obviously that's a big one.
But you know what, I think this game is -- has strong merit as being a really good rivalry.
Q. It's early in the year as well. A lot of football to be played. Apart from the rivalry and the axe, the winner of this game is 2-0 in the Big Ten and it suddenly looks kind of up for grabs as far as the division is concerned. Is that how you look at it?
COACH BREWSTER: As I've said all along, I think we've got great parity in the conference this season. On any given Saturday. Anybody can beat anybody. Again, it goes back to preparation and execution. Your preparedness is gonna give you a chance to win. I agree with your statement.
On any given Saturday, anybody can win in this conference. I think that that's really a plus for this conference and a real positive.
Q. Whaley seemed to give you a different change of pace. Your thoughts.
COACH BREWSTER: He did. He gives us a little different -- kind of like that curve ball that comes at you maybe a little faster than you think. He's got good speed and good quickness, and excellent toughness. I've used the term "violence" when he runs. He runs with a sense of violence about him that I think is really positive.
He really gave us a nice lift against Northwestern. He gave us some good, hard runs.
Q. How come Bennett didn't run good before for three games?
COACH BREWSTER: It's all tied together. I mean, a running back is not gonna -- it's all tied together. Offensive play, tight end play, running back play. And I think we've had some good positive runs. We just didn't have the consistently that we had against Northwestern.
I think that's the key, is against Northwestern we consistently ran the ball. It was really positive.
Q. Cosgrove and Lee obviously have a relationship. Talk about the chemistry there and how it benefited having them work together?
COACH BREWSTER: Those guys are very familiar with one another. They're two veteran, experienced coaches that -- you know, they just work extremely well together. They were friends, which I think is a positive. Both of their inputs, the input we get from John Butler and from Tim Cross, you know, we collaborate to put our plans together here on the offensive side of ball, on the defensive side of ball, in special forces.
I think that our coaching have done a really good job with the plans going into each game. Ronny and Kevin have really worked well together. I think them being familiar with one another coming in has helped.
Q. Had it been a benefit to hire Cosgrove when you knew that he had that previous relationship with a guy that you wanted as a defensive coordinator?
COACH BREWSTER: Yeah, I just felt like Ronnie Lee is very deserving of being a co-defensive coordinator. He's an outstanding coach and he's been doing it a long time.
I knew exactly what I was getting with Group Kevin Cosgrove. I've known him for a long time, and his record speaks for itself. He's an outstanding defensive coordinator and has had a lot success. Not just those two, but also adding Tim Cross and John Butler to the mix, we've got a heck of a defensive staff.
Q. Adam Weber and Scott Tolzien, do you see any comparisons?
COACH BREWSTER: What I've seen of the quarterback at Wisconsin, he's a good player. I think you see some similarities there. They both look very poised, and they're accurate with the football. You know, Tolzien is playing really well. I mean, obviously you guys all know I like our guy. I think our guy is a really good football player, and I've been very impressed with Wisconsin's quarterback.
Q. Do you see Wisconsin's offensive balance as the type of thing you're looking for in terms of balance?
COACH BREWSTER: Again, as I said, what I want to be able to do is win left-handed. What that means, is if they take away your strength, you can win with the other phase of game: running or passing. There are very few teams in the country that can do that. I think we're developing into the type of offensive football team that's gonna be able to run the football and gonna be able to throw the football, and whatever the defensive does to try to take away our strength, we can fall back on the other and still win.
That's what we want to be able to do offensively.
Q. With the two backs, what are the different challenges?
COACH BREWSTER: Obviously they're really good players. One is a big physical back, the other guy is a little smaller, speed oriented. They compliment each other very well. Obviously the scheme fits what they like to do, what they can do well.
You know, they're a challenge, both those backs, so...
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH BREWSTER: Yeah, both of these guys are gonna play kind of similar to our situation here. You know, 32 and 30 are gonna be in the game and they're both gonna get their touches. Like I said, again, they're a little different, what each one brings to the plate.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH BREWSTER: Yeah, Anthony is playing really well. You know, he played really well against Northwestern, and we think that he's a good football player. Again, depth has been a real positive for us. We're playing a lot of guys in the defensive line; we're playing guys in the secondary; offensively obviously you saw some guys step in and play and play well.
So, again, that's a real positive. Again, with our program, where we're at is the type of depth that we have.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH BREWSTER: Again, as the week unfolds, we'll see how it plays out. You know, Ryan has some versatility. He has some versatility to be able to play corner and inside. It's nice to have a guy that's been experienced and been in the fire and can step on the field and play well.
Q. How difficult is it defending against a team with a tight end like Garrett Graham?
COACH BREWSTER: We've seen it before with the tight end that they had. Really they've had good tights end there. You know, we have a really good tight end, so we practice against that every day, you know.
So it is real plus. They've got a guy outside, the young receiver, Toon, he's an outstanding player. Then you've got the tight end who plays well inside. It just really helps you to have a guy that can work the middle of the field, as we saw with Nick Tow-Arnett against Northwestern.
Q. You talked about the parity in the Big Ten. How many losses do you think maybe a Big Ten champion could have?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, that's hard to say. You know, I don't have a clue, you know. I really don't know. You know, all's I know is that each and every week you've got to prepare to go win football games. On any given Saturday, you can get beat in this conference. Is it one loss? Is it two losses? It's hard to say.
All's we're gonna do every week is prepare to win. We're gonna go into every game expecting to win because of our preparation, because of the way that we go about the process.
Now, that's all you can do, I believe, as a football team, is prepare to win and expect to win. Truly expect to win. Have a tremendous belief and confidence in each other to go out and make it happen.
Like I said, I can't say enough about our team in their belief in each other and their belief that we'll find a way to win football games in the fourth quarter. And when the games get tough, that's when we'll play our best.
That's really I think what every coach in the country strives to have his team do.
Q. Is it tough to get three backs in a game? MarQueis you obviously want to get him involved in the running game as well. Is it tough to get three backs their carries?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, I don't know. You know, obviously last week we had a guy with 21 carries for 89 yards and three touchdowns. MarQueis Gray each and every game is gonna be incorporated into the game. Each week you see him get a little bit for comfortable and confidence with what he can do. You can see how talented he is.
DeLeon Eskridge is gonna get his touches. So I don't look at it as a problem in any way. To be honest with you, I look at it as a great positive for our team. You know, that we've got some talent, and, you know, if a guy gets hurt, if a guy is not playing well, we can take him off the field and replace him with a guy that can help us win. That's very positive.
Q. When you have such an intense rivalry, do you have to do anything to keep people on an even keel rather than getting too emotional in the preparation?
COACH BREWSTER: Again, I think there's motivation ploys and gimmicks and all that stuff that are not necessary this week. Our team is gonna be extremely focused. Based on what I've seen already from the meeting Sunday and the number of guys that were in here studying film yesterday, our guys are gonna be ready to go play.
Again, it goes back to Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. How your practices were on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The walk-through, how sharp your walk-through is on Friday. So to me that determines how you're gonna play on Saturday.
Q. Are there a lot of guys that were watching film?
COACH BREWSTER: We have a lot of guys that watch film every week. I think that without question there's and understanding that who we're playing this week and that it is a big game.
Q. You only have one penalty in last week's game. Did you clean things up, or is that just the process?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, we emphasize the lack of penalties, making sure that we play smart. Self-inflicted wounds can't be part of us trying to win football games.
So we work really hard in practice. We have officials that practice quite a bit, and we talk about trying to eliminate penalties as best that we can.
There will be penalties in every game obviously. It's part of the game. What you've got to try to do is just limit particularly the ones that hurt you in inopportune times.
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