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UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 3, 2009
COACH BREWSTER: Well, in recapping Michigan State, obviously it was a great win for our team, for our coaches, for our program. Excellent win over a really good Michigan State team.
I thought that we had excellent preparation. I thought that was the key to our success against Michigan State, was the way we prepared as a team last week. Came out and played extremely well early in the game and I think set the tone for our resilience and our resolve for the game against Michigan State.
Obviously loved how we responded continually to Michigan State getting back in the game. Every time Michigan State made a run and tried to get back into it, our guys made the plays that good teams make in those situations to go win the football game. So, obviously, really pleased with the performance. In dedicating the game to Eric Decker, there was nothing better than going in the locker room after that game and giving a game ball to a kid that means so much to the state of Minnesota, the University of Minnesota, and a very special moment for all of us to be able to give him the game ball after the game. A lot of emotion in the locker room.
Offensively, obviously it all started with Adam Weber. He played a great football game from all aspects. Tremendous leadership. Threw the ball extremely well. Just did a great job leading our offense all night long. Was extremely accurate with the football.
I thought our offensive line did a great job in protection all night long. Really did a super job of giving him time to really see the field and go through the progressions and do the things that he needed to do as a quarterback.
I thought our running game, I thought the runningbacks did a nice job in giving us some opportunities to run the football. But I think, you know, the real highlight was the young receivers, the way the young receivers stepped up and played in that game, it was just really exciting for our program and where we're going. To see Da'Jon McKnight go down the field and make big-time plays, Troy Stoudermire, Brandon Green, Nick Tow-Arnett, you think about he played the game he played. He just played an unbelievable game at tight end, how physical he was, the catches he made.
Again, the young receivers really put a smile on my face, the way that they stepped up to the challenge, accepted the challenge, and went out and performed at an extremely high level in the game, it was just really exciting.
Defensively I thought our guys did a great job. We were so physical in that football game, running downhill, attacking the football. Michigan State had 10 yards rushing at the half, and we gave up a long run that I think skewed the defensive effort somewhat as far as stopping the run. We gave up a couple of plays defensively. I thought all night long our defense was outstanding. When you look at the effort on the goal line, just first and goal on the one, and they end up fourth and goal on the three. That's big-time football right there. It was a heck of an effort by our defense. They just did a heck of a job.
Obviously special teams-wise, disappointed with the kickoff return for a touchdown to begin the second half. But, again, the effort across the board was just outstanding in the kicking game.
You know, I think the name of the story was just tremendous effort, tremendous passion all night long by our football team. Our football team was not going to be denied on Saturday night. They went out and played with tremendous character, tremendous heart, the way I like to see our teams play.
Obviously we had too many penalties in the game. That's something that we'll continue to work on, try to eliminate self-inflicted wounds. But, again, the story of the game was the effort by the Gophers and the way that they fought and competed for 60 minutes against a really good Michigan State football team.
As you look at it, the awards for the week, the Offensive Player of the Week is also the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, Adam Weber. Again, you can't say enough about Adam Weber, who he is, what he means to our football team. Just a great performance by Adam Weber.
Defensive Player of the Week is also the Defensive Player of the Week in the Big Ten, Garrett Brown. He was great all night long. Tremendous penetration. He was in the backfield all night getting after people. He was very disruptive and played a great game.
Our Special Forces Player of the Week had three hits, three tackles on special forces. He caused a fumble. Just played a great football game in the kicking game, DeLeon Eskridge. Here is a guy, when you think about a great teammate, when you think about a guy who's also in the mix at runningback, didn't get as many opportunities as a runningback, but goes out there and is our best special teams player. I think that says a lot about DeLeon Eskridge and who he is.
Hard Hat Hit of the Week, guys, we had about eight of them. In deciding about the Hard Hat Hit of the Week, Kevin Whaley, Simoni Lawrence and Jon Hoese are all going to share the award. In one way or another they all did some great things. Kevin Whaley on a blitz pickup, I'm not sure exactly how much he weighs, but his heart's as big as his body. I mean, he unloaded on a much bigger guy than him in blitz protection. Simoni Lawrence had a great play. Jon Hoese also week in and week out is a very physical player.
Our Lunch Pail Player Award goes to Barrett Moen. Very unsung kind of guy, quiet guy. Just went out and played extremely well. Was very physical.
Our Extra Effort Award goes to Duane Bennett. He had three touchdowns in the game, obviously set the tone for the night on the first game of the play, catching a rail route and going the distance for a touchdown. Then, obviously, being in the right place at the right time helps, too, as far as the touchdown he had on the pass from Nick Tow-Arnett.
Great Teammate Award, again he could get this every week, he's just an amazing teammate, great kid, is Nick Tow-Arnett.
Our Scout Offensive Player of the Week is Kyle Henderson. Our Scout Defensive Player of the Week is Sam Maresh. Those guys do a great job in helping us prepare and did a great job last week.
In looking at Illinois, obviously Illinois is a very talented football team. They've got a bunch of good players on their team. I don't think that their record is indicative at all of the type of talent that they have. I thought that last week their performance against Michigan showed how much talent that they've got.
Got a great performance out of Isaiah Williams. He played extremely well as the quarterback. Their running game, they rushed for 337 yards. Ford and LeShoure are both big-time backs, big, physical backs, they're going to try to run the football.
Defensively they shut Michigan out in the second half. Down 13-7 at the half, go and shut Michigan out in the second half. It was just a dominant performance by Illinois in that game.
Obviously, they were very motivated to get back on track and win a football game. They went out and played extremely well against Michigan and got a big win.
Q. You look at the way Williams play, what does that say about him as a competitor? Does he look as good as he ever has in this last game?
COACH BREWSTER: I think he's a good football player. I think it certainly says something about his character, who he is, his competitive nature. He's a kid who's had a lot of success at the University of Illinois. He's one of the leading passers in the history of the Big Ten. He's done a lot of great things. He's been the quarterback of a Rose Bowl team. I've got great respect for Isaiah Williams. He's a very, very good football player.
Q. What did you see differently in Adam's play that led to this breakout?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, he had a great week of practice, a great week of preparation. His confidence level was extremely high going into the football game. Again, I've said this, we need to do a better job of helping Adam, supporting Adam with the other 10 guys on offense. I thought that's exactly what we did the other night against Michigan State.
He got great protection by our offensive line. The backs did a great job in blitz pickup. Adam was able to stand in the pocket and really see the field very clearly. And then he just cut the ball loose. He did a great job throwing the football. He was extremely decisive the other night. Again, it was just a great performance by him.
Q. His ability never to get down when things weren't going his way, is that one of the qualities that stands out about a leader like him?
COACH BREWSTER: Absolutely. Absolutely. He's got tremendous inner confidence. He's not a guy that is real verbal, that type of thing, outward confidence, that type of thing, but I think he's a very confident young guy. He believes in himself. You know, I think that's the biggest thing about Adam, is he's got tremendous belief in himself, his abilities as a quarterback. It certainly showed the other night.
Again, he played as well as a quarterback can play.
Q. Is Big Ten football better now because of the replay?
COACH BREWSTER: You know what, that's a good question. Certainly there are some issues with our reviews. There's been issues. We've just got to continue -- it's all about the decision maker in the box. A review means nothing if the decision maker doesn't understand the rule, doesn't understand exactly what the call should be. Again, I think we're continuing to be in a process of education as far as exactly what a guy's looking at, what he's seeing, and there being a tremendous consistency to calls. You know, there's a couple of calls in our game that lacked consistency. I think that's the thing that every coach wants to just see, is consistency in how the game is called.
Q. (Question regarding Jewhan Edwards.)
COACH BREWSTER: Jewhan is doing a great job. He's in on short-yardage situation, on the goal line. He's a big, physical guy. He's a guy on the point of attack, he's really hard to move. A large body, big, strong guy. He can get penetration. He can get push.
Again, it's exciting. He's a sophomore. You know, he's playing in critical situations and doing a nice job while he's in. I'll tell you what, Garrett Brown on the goal line, I mean, I'm going to tell you, guys, he was amazing. I mean, how disruptive he was, the plays that he made. But, again, collectively those 11 guys made a decision that Michigan State was not gonna score. It was great to see.
Q. (Question regarding alma mater.)
COACH BREWSTER: Obviously, it's a school you went to. So, obviously, when you play against a school that you went to, there's a little something there. I mean, it would be foolish to say there wouldn't be. You know, it's like playing your brother in basketball in the backyard or something like that, you know, you want to win. But, again, it's a Big Ten game. It's a game this week that's on the schedule for us.
I think what you'll see about me is I've got great passion week in and week. You know, I want to win.
Q. Weren't you valedictorian of the class?
COACH BREWSTER: Was close (smiling). The degree is in political science.
Q. Working on the penalty thing, what can you do to rein the amount of penalties in?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, again, it's emphasizing. What you emphasize, you improve. Again, there will be tremendous emphasis. We have officials at practice, that type of thing. Again, educating our players. We go through every single penalty that's called against us with our team as a team. Again, it's educating our guys.
You know, one of the things is that we're a very passionate team. We want to play for 60 minutes. We want to compete for 60 minutes. That's exactly what our team does. What we've got to do is we've got to learn from our mistakes that we've made. We've got to understand that self-inflicted wounds, we had over 500 yards offense against Michigan State and probably could have had over 600 yards offense. So we've just got to understand and learn from our mistakes and move forward.
Again, as I've said numerous time, penalties are part of the game. How you respond to penalties is what's critical. I think we've responded very well to the situations we've put ourselves in. Again, what you've got to try to do is eliminate those.
Q. There were 26 penalties called in this game. Were you in agreement with most of the calls after having watched them on film?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, I don't know that's a conversation that needs to take place. I mean, obviously I was not in full agreement of all the calls that were made. Normally, as is every week, I have a conversation with Bill Carollo, the director of officiating in the Big Ten. Again, I think the key term is 'consistency,' striving to find consistency in all the game is called. That's a lot of penalties to be called in one football game. Like I said, I agree with some, others I didn't.
Q. What do you think of Coach Ron Zook?
COACH BREWSTER: I really like Ron. I think Ron brings tremendous energy, passion. He's done a great job recruiting at the University of Illinois. He has a collection of very talented football players there. He's taken a team to the Rose Bowl. You know, they haven't had a whole lot of success this season, but then they come back and they beat Michigan, and beat Michigan very soundly. You can't help but admire the resilience that that team has shown. Very easily they probably could have went the other direction in the game against Michigan, down 13-7 at the half.
Obviously he's got command of his team. He's got a lot of good football players on his team. So I've got great respect for Ron and what he's done at the University of Illinois.
Q. He's a great recruiter. You're a great recruiter. Your aspirations of going to the Rose Bowl. They went to the Rose Bowl. What do you think are maybe some of the reasons why the programs mirror each other, competition in the Big Ten?
COACH BREWSTER: You know what, it's hard to say because I'm not there. So I'm certainly not going to comment on their program. Again, like I said, I think Ron has done a heck of a job at the University of Illinois. I think he'll continue to do so because he's going to continue to bring good football players in there.
What we're trying to do here is a separate entity, obviously. I'm really proud of our football team, proud of our program, the direction we're going, the improvements we've made. It's exciting. It truly is exciting, I think the direction of where we're headed.
Again, we're recruiting at a very high level. Our kids are playing hard. They're doing the things that good teams do. That's all you want to continue to do.
Q. Do you think you've seen him play his best?
COACH BREWSTER: You know what, I'd love to see us play the most complete game that we can. Have we played that game yet this season? I certainly hope not. I'd like to see us come out and play a very complete football game against the University of Illinois on Saturday and then continue. We've got two other games.
Yeah, I think there's improvement certainly, a lot of improvement that can be made.
Q. Any discipline that you plan for Carter?
COACH BREWSTER: Michael's situation is one in which we handle internally, just like we do everything. So we're very understanding of his situation and we've discussed it. Obviously, we'll handle it the way we see fit.
Q. You mentioned DeLeon Eskridge earlier. How has his role changed in the last two weeks?
COACH BREWSTER: DeLeon, I'm so proud of him, of the way he's handled the situation, not getting as many touches, not getting as many carries, and not pouting, not being selfish. He is a team guy. I mean, the evidence was so much there the other night with the way he played in the kicking game. I mean, he was doing some great things in the kicking game, extremely physical. Again, like I said, I think it says so much about the character of the young man, who he is. It's not about him; it's about the football team. That's a great quality that he has.
COACH BREWSTER: He's really playing well, guys. He's flying around, a hundred percent healthy. It's just really great to see the way that he's loving the game of the football, the way he loves football, and the way he's helping us prepare every week. I'm going to tell you, he makes it hard on our offense because he is running to the football and he's extremely physical. He's gonna be a heck of a player for us.
Q. When you look at McKnight, who didn't play high school football till he was a senior, how much upside does he have in terms of running the game?
COACH BREWSTER: He's got a great deal of upside. I saw him his senior year at Skyline High at spring practice. I was immediately taken by his athleticism and his length. He was a basketball player. You see his body, he looks like a basketball player. He is now looking more and more like a football player. He's gotten stronger. He's putting some weight on. You see his level of confidence.
Right now he feels really good about himself. He's a very talented receiver. He gives us something from a length standpoint that some of the other guys don't. He can really go up, get the football, make plays on the ball. He's got great speed.
I think Da'Jon, he's a good football player. It's going to be really exciting down the stretch these last three or four football games that we have this seen to see those young guys continue to gain confidence as they play.
Q. How much does it help the fact that you stress one game, but in this period between Michigan State and Illinois, South Dakota, you're pretty much here for a month, how much does that help you so you don't have to worry about the grinds of travel?
COACH BREWSTER: It's great. I can't tell you guys what an advantage it was for our team to be in TCF Bank Stadium the other night. From the Gopher Victory Walk, through the game, I thought our crowd was absolutely awesome. They were our 12th man. That's what we've been dreaming for for 28 years at the University of Minnesota, is to be back at home on campus, and our crowd really giving us a tremendous lift and support.
Our crowd the other night was absolutely awesome. Mark Dantonio made a comment to me, this is an unbelievable stadium, the crowd was great. You know, it's great to be at home. It really is. We're looking forward to playing this week at home and then having our last home game against South Dakota State.
Q. Do you have to talk to your team again about possibly making better choices late at night?
COACH BREWSTER: We talk about on a daily and weekly basis, about making good decisions both on and off the field. That's something we educate our kids about. It's something that obviously I take a great deal of pride in, is our guys understanding that you are different, that you've got to make great decisions. We're a team that talks a lot together. I think that that really helps us as a team. I certainly take great responsibility in being the father of 113 sons.
Q. Are you a disciplinarian?
COACH BREWSTER: There are some people that have said I'm a pretty strong disciplinarian. That's who I am. I believe there's a right way and a wrong way to do things. There's really no gray area. We really emphasize doing things the right way, holding each other accountable and responsible for all of the decisions that we make.
End of FastScripts