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UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 27, 2009
COACH BREWSTER: Going back and thinking about the Ohio State recap, you know, coming off of a tough two-game road stretch, obviously two very difficult teams. Two very difficult places to play.
Thought our team came out and competed extremely well against Ohio State. Obviously the turnovers to begin the second half certainly changed the complexion of a 7-0 football game at the half.
We felt like we were in great shape to compete in the second half and have an opportunity to go win a football game. Certainly the turnovers hurt us. We're very excited about being home. You know, after coming off two tough games on the road, coming come on Saturday night, Halloween night, TCF Bank Stadium, I know our football team is extremely excited about being at home in front of our fans and feeling the excitement. Of the Golfer Nation on Saturday night.
I just think it's gonna be a great environment for college football. A nationally televised Big Ten Network game, and I know that our players are really excited.
We've got two 4-4 football team. We're 4-4 and Michigan State is 4-4. Two football teams that are trying to find their place in the Big Ten standings. Two football teams battling to be a good bowl team.
So that's exciting. Again, it should be very exciting for our fans. I know our football team is extremely excited to start practice today and prepare for Michigan State.
As you look at the depth chart going into the Michigan State game, the only player that's out, totally out, will be Eric Decker. What we hope is we can possibly get Eric back for a Bowl game if that presents itself. But that's kind of where his situation is at right now. He's got a sprained foot. There are some other people looking at his foot to try to see exactly what needs to be done. Surgery could be involved; could not be involved.
So hopefully what happens for Eric is he gets a chance to finish his career as a Golden Golfer in a bowl game representing the university. So he will be out. Da'Jon McKnight steps up, and Ben Kuznia backs up. That basically is it on the offensive side.
On the defensive side, Cedric McKinley moves up, Anthony Jacobs will back up Cedric McKinley, and all the specialists remain the same.
Again, like I said, I think it's very positive for our team that we haven't had to make too many chances as far as injuries are concerned for this late in the season.
When you look at Michigan State, obviously they're a very physical, tough football team. Lost a heartbreaker last Saturday night. Last-second loss to Iowa was a tough loss for them. They played extremely well and thought they were obviously in position to win the football game. Iowa, with two seconds to go in the game, throws a touchdown pass. So obviously -- but they played extremely well. They're a very good football team.
Again, they're a 4-4 football team. We're a 4-4 football team. Battling on Saturday night. You look at it again, they run the football extremely well. That's, I think, the identity of their offensive football team. Trying to establish the running game. Cousins, the quarterback, has done a really nice job of managing the offense play action pass. Very accurate passer, completing over 60% of his passes. Touchdown intercept ratio is good.
Obviously they're a strong defensive football team. Special teams are very solid. I just think they're an excellent football team. Very well-coached team and fundamental in all areas. Obviously they'll present a great challenge to us.
Like I said, it's gonna be an exciting night Saturday night. Again, can't wait to start practice today with our preparation.
Q. Obviously the similarities between the two programs run pretty deep, beyond a 4-4. You and Mark Dantonio are in your third year at your perspective programs. What have you noticed in preparing for your first matchup with the similarities?
COACH BREWSTER: You know what, I think Mark's done a really nice job at Michigan State. Think he's done a nice job. Obviously they've improved. They went to a Bowl game last year, as we did. I think we're in somewhat of a similar place right now this season as far as a one-loss record is concerned.
You know, want to establish a physical running game. Some of the same philosophical thoughts I think are there. But Mark's done a good job. I think he's done a nice job at Michigan State.
Q. Can you talk about the defense?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, I think that the term "tough and physical," you keep coming back to those terms when you look at Michigan State, when you look at a what they're trying to accomplish from an identity standpoint, you know.
Obviously their defensive front, they've got two defensive tackles that are extremely physical. Middle linebacker that's an excellent football player. Really good in the secondary on the back end. You know mark concentrates -- coaches the secondary himself. Obviously they're a good group back there.
So I think that I would agree. They're a physical football team. They're a tough football team. I think you know exactly what type of game you're getting into when you play Michigan State. I don't think there's any question about the type of game that it's gonna be.
Q. (Question regarding Eric Decker's injury.)
COACH BREWSTER: For the second year in a row, it's unfortunate that Eric has had an injury that's gonna put him out.
But, again, I really think it's exciting for your football team to have to be the next man up, you know, replace his production. You know, I think it's really exciting for young football players to know that they're gonna get their opportunity to go do some things, and collectively everybody is gonna have to step up.
It's really hard to replace a guy like Eric Decker. I think he's the best wide receiver in college football, period. You know, it's tough to replace a guy like that.
But, again, like I said, my mindset has always been when you have an injury, just like Jeff Tow-Arnett, you know, we've played three centers this year. Next man up.
Again, like I said, I think our team has really responded to that type of attitude.
Q. Did you have talk with the team specifically about that, Decker being out?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, briefly we discussed it. It's not something I -- you know, same type of conversation about Jeff Tow-Arnett. These are two young men that unfortunately are not being able to finish their senior seasons. They mean a great deal to our football program.
What's really gonna be exciting is hopefully to see them play, both of them play one more time wearing maroon and gold.
Q. Is he getting a second opinion at this point, and when will a decision be made about whether or not he'll need surgery?
COACH BREWSTER: It's ongoing. If there's information to let you know, we'll let you know. Right now he's being looked at. It's a decision that will be made as to whether or not surgery needs to take place. If surgery needs to take place, he'll be out for an extended period of time. If surgery doesn't need to take place, then hopefully we'll get him back for the Bowl game.
Q. You guys had a pretty emotional game in part because you dedicated the game to Jeff Tow-Arnett. Do you imagine the team would rally around getting him back on the field if he was able to for a Bowl?
COACH BREWSTER: I would think that our team would be very excited about the prospects about having both those guys back and playing one more time with those guys. I think that would certainly be a motivating factor.
Q. Did you to have ask one guy to replace Decker, or is it sort of a group thing?
COACH BREWSTER: Yeah, I think it's cumulative. I think all 11 guys on offensive have to step up and improve their play and improve their production. I don't think it comes from just the receivers. I think it comes from the offensive line, it comes from the quarterback, the tailback, the full back. I think everybody has got to take a part in helping replace a player like Eric.
And obviously we were faced with the same situation last year. You know, I thought last year in the first game coming back again Wisconsin our young receivers went out and played extremely well. And our young receivers are gonna play really well Saturday night.
Q. Do you think it's tougher as a football coach and as a team to recover from a game like last week where at least on the scoreboard things got away a little bit, or like Michigan State where they lost a tough game in the last seconds?
COACH BREWSTER: You know what, to me, a loss is a loss. Losses are hard. They're really hard if you're totally invested in what you're doing. If your coaching staff and team is totally invested in what you're doing, to me a loss is a loss.
So to distinguish between a close loss or a -- and how you would portray or loss, being a bigger loss, a loss is a loss. I'm sure that I felt just as bad Sunday morning as Mark did.
Q. With Michigan State's tough defense, who do you think will matchup better with them, Gray or Weber?
COACH BREWSTER: Who will matchup better with 'em? You know what, I think what we're gonna do is we're gonna continue to the things that we do. Adam Weber is our starting quarterback, and he's gonna obviously play a large role in the game.
MarQueis Gray will get opportunities similar to what he did against Ohio State to come in and help us. Obviously was very pleased with his contribution against Ohio State. Adam Weber threw the ball as well early in the game against Ohio State as he had all season. We just didn't do a good enough job supporting him. We dropped a number of balls a that could've gave us a real lift and a sense of confidence.
So Adam Weber is gonna continue to be our starter. He's the starter and he'll play extremely well I think Saturday night. And I feel really good about MarQuies Gray.
Q. Was Decker's injury just during last week's game, or was it something that he aggravated from earlier in the year?
COACH BREWSTER: It was something that happened Saturday. Yeah, it was a totally different injury from the one -- last year he had a sprained ankle, a high ankle sprain. This is a sprain in his arch. It a problem in the arch in his foot.
Q. Tim, what do you do as far as Saturday when you have a night game and you have extra time that day going into the game?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, our routine's the same for any time we play a night game. I really enjoy it, because we do what most basketball team's do, and that's have a gameday shoot around. We have a gameday walk-through, and really enjoy the gameday walk-through and being able to focus in.
We'll have extensive film study. But we'll get a chance to walk through, which we don't get a chance to do when we play an 11:00 game. Sometimes we can get it done with a 2:30 or 3:00 start. With an evening start, we get the guys up and really have excellent gameday preparation, which I think is really positive.
Q. How did you do that?
COACH BREWSTER: We'll be at the hotel. Hopefully we'll be able to get outside. If we have to stay inside, we'll stay inside.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH BREWSTER: I love night games. I love night games. Think it's great for fans. Great for the football team. I think it creates tremendous excitement. The environment for night games, I think everybody here would have to say, it's different. There as an electricity to the environment for a night game. I think that's exciting.
The only people that don't necessarily like night games are coaches. We go directly to work after a night game in our preparation for the opponent. You don't get much time off.
But I think from a fans and player perspective, there's nothing like a Saturday night football game. That's as good as it gets.
Q. Does that mean you hate games with 11:00 a.m. starts?
COACH BREWSTER: I don't hate 'em. I love playing the game of football and I love coaching football. If they play at 3:00 in the morning, I would be there and be excited.
But I think if you asked a question about whether or not, you know, what time is a game I think the most exciting, I'd have to say 7:00 Saturday night. That's pretty good.
Q. Against Ohio State, the secondary had some pretty good moments. How do you assess where they're at going into this game?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, I think our secondary really did some positive things. We did give up a couple big plays. Certainly the big plays really limit your opportunity to be successful, so we've got to try to really work hard to eliminate the big plays and continue to do a good job on third down.
I think, again, the emphasis on third down is absolutely critical. Ohio State was 7 out of 14 and they were 50% on third down. We'd like it keep them under 50%.
Again, I thought our defensive did a lot of good things in the game against Ohio State. You know, a 19-play drive to hold them to zero points, you know, heck of a job by the defense. Great pressure on the field goal.
Again, we just put our defense in some tough situations in the second half. You know, we gotta help our defense offensively.
Q. When you look at their linebacker, Jones, on film, do you see any similarities from him to some of your linebackers?
COACH BREWSTER: He's a big, long, physical guy. He's a good football player. He's excellent football player.
We have an excellent middle linebacker in Lee Campbell. You know, you're probably talking about two of the better middle linebackers in the Big Ten.
Q. Have you had a chance to look at Blair White? Talk about him, the wide receiver for Michigan State.
COACH BREWSTER: I really think they've got some excellent wide receivers. They've got speed, size, athleticism, and I think they're doing a good job. Cousins is doing a good job. Nichols did a good job earlier in the year getting the ball to 'em. Very dynamic play-making type guys. Very explosive guys.
You know, obviously they're gonna really challenge us to do a good job, and limiting the number of explosive plays they get in the passing game, particularly play action pass.
Off the run game, they do a nice job with the run game. But the hard play action stuff, you've really gotta be disciplined with the corners, because they can get behind you.
Q. Talk about Troy Stoudermire. Have you been able to use him in the offensive the way you imagined going into the year?
COACH BREWSTER: Yeah, I think Troy's done some really great things in the return game. Had a heck of a catch on Saturday against Ohio State on that last drive. Really a nice job by him. I think we're getting a lot of good production out of Troy.
Obviously I think we'll continue to get more, particularly now with Decker being sidelined.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH BREWSTER: What we've stated is we want to recruit those type of players to this program. Those type of players being in your program give you a chance to make explosive plays. You know, that's what the game has become. The game has become a game of explosive plays and who can limit the explosive plays and who can get them offensively.
Troy is certainly a guy that gives us, if we hand the ball to him, a chance to get more than a 12-yard run. Or if we throw the ball to him, a plus-18 catch. Those are the things that determine explosive play for us.
Q. (Question regarding Bryant Allen.)
COACH BREWSTER: Yeah, really exciting to see Bryant catch a slant Ohio State at their place. You know, really confident. He's gonna be a really good football player. Exciting to see him make that play. He'll continue to make plays.
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