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UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 17, 2009
COACH BREWSTER: Going back and looking at South Dakota State, really pleased to win our sixth game and become Bowl eligible again for the second year in a row. The extra 15 practices that you get going to a Bowl game is huge.
It's huge in the development, the continued development of our program. It's a tremendous advantage to be able to have two spring practices. That's exactly what you get: two spring practices.
Again, very positive for us. As you look at the South Dakota State game, obviously really pleased with some of the things I saw on defense. Obviously offensively we didn't have the production that we were looking for. Kicking game-wise we gave up a couple of plays in the return game that we haven't done all year long.
But most significant thing, again, as I said, is we got the win. Any win, all wins are great wins. Don't look at them any other way.
As you look at it, the MVPs or Most Valuable Player of the week awards for South Dakota State game, offensive player of the week, Jon Hoese. Jon Hoese played great. He's played greet each and every week. Done a great job.
Defensive player of the week is Garrett Brown. Garret Brown, again, he had three solo tackles, he had a sack. He really did a great job all day long.
We did not give a special forces player of the week this week. We were disappointed obviously with the coverage in a couple instances, so we just don't hand out the awards to hand them out. We were not pleased with the special teams, particularly the coverage, and so we did not give out a special forces player of the week.
Hard hat hit of the week, really exciting. This particular play was really exciting, because two freshmen were involved with it. The hard hat hit of the week goes to Michael Carter for coming off the edge and hitting the quarterback on the blitz. Knocking the ball up in the air and coming around the edge was D.L. Wilhite. Caught the ball in mid-air and scored. True freshmen, redshirt freshmen making two huge plays in the game. Really excited about that.
The lunch pail award, guys, again, he's gonna get something every week. Nick Tow-Arnett. He plays extremely well each and every game.
The extra effort award guys goes to Lee Campbell. There's about three plays in the game in which we could have had him as the effort player. Again, that's what he's about, is great effort.
The great teammate award goes to Cedric McKinley. He's worked extremely hard this year and he's come back and done some great things. He had five tackles, a TFL, and he had a fumble recovery late in the game, which was big.
And then our scout offensive player of the week is a young offensive lineman from Indianapolis, Brooks Michael. He's done a great job all year.
The scout defensive player of the week is Brian Klitzke. Again, in the secondary, he's done a good job.
As you look at the depth chart for the Iowa game, the biggest change will you Matt Carufel again being back. Last week he had an ankle injury, and so he will be back in the starting lineup at right guard. So that'll be significant to get Matt back.
As you look at it from a health standpoint, I think we're in pretty good shape. We had a number of guys out last week, but I don't anticipate anybody missing the Iowa game.
We've got some guys that are nicked up a little bit. Traye Simmons is still a little nicked up, but we hope to get him at practice today. Marcus Sherels, all season long he's been somewhat nicked up. But we think he'll gonna be ready to go as well. So from a health standpoint, I think we'll be in good shape.
The Iowa week this week is a fun week. It's a fun week for our football team. We've been excited. Had a great Sunday workout. A lot of energy. Again, it's a fun week. Playing for the Floyd of Rosedale, it's a very significant trophy. It means a lot to the State of Minnesota and to our players to play four the Floyd of Rosedale, play for the Pig.
Again, like I said, it's gonna be a fun week. I can't wait to get out to practice this afternoon and begin the preparation for an outstanding football team. Kirk's been at Iowa for a long time. He's got a great coaching staff, and they've done a really nice job there. They've get a very good football team.
They're coming off two tough losses. Last week, an overtime loss to Ohio State. I thought they played extremely well at Ohio State. They've got a very good football team. Obviously Vandenberg has stepped in for Stanzi and done a nice job. I don't know that they've missed much of a beat.
They do what they do. They're gonna try to run the football, establish the running game. Again, you know exactly the type of game you're gonna get into when you play against Iowa. It's a physical football game.
So that's the challenge for our football team, to go down to Iowa City and play a physical football game against a team that's gonna try to establish the running game. That's something we know about them. That's what they're gonna do.
Defensively, you know, again, they're very strong and very physical. I think the thing about Iowa's football team is both their offensive front and defensive front are big, strong, physical guys, guys that have been in the program for a long time. They've got a lot of experience in both their lines, and it shows in the way that he play.
Clayborn is as good a defensive end as we'll see all year. He's an outstanding football player, really a good football player.
Again, it's about being physical. Going against them, we're gonna have to get some continuity in the running game. We're gonna have to run the football and make some plays down the field. I think they're 10th in the nation in total defense at this point.
Their kicking games are very solid. They're just a very good football team. It's a tremendous challenge for us. We know that we're a big underdog in the football game, and rightfully so. They're a good football team. I give them a lot of credit.
But, again, like I said it's an exciting opportunity for us to take our team down there and do a great job with our preparation this week in practice and go have some fun on Saturday. That's exactly what we're looking forward to doing.
Q. Have you been able to put a finger on the inconsistencies offensively? Is it execution things? Play calling things?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, I think that it's, you know, a number of different things. Obviously we've gotta execute. We're not doing a whole a lot different. We've gotta do a great job of executing. We' ve gotta do a great job of protecting the quarterback, a better job of protecting the quarterback up front.
Our receivers gotta do a better job of route running, separating, presenting themselves to the quarterback. Our quarterback's gotta make good decisions with the football, particularly under duress.
It's a number of things that each week you work really hard to improve. Obviously we've had some great offensive performances this year. Last week certainly wasn't one of 'em. This week we've gotta work really hard in practice at all areas, you know, in all areas that we've gotta improve to have a chance against Iowa.
Q. Is one week of film enough to get a good idea of what this young quarterback can do?
COACH BREWSTER: I think so. We've looked really hard at 'em. We looked at their games all season long. To be honest with you, they're not doing anything different with Vandenberg than with Stanzi. Vandenberg is a really good young quarterback. He's got an extremely strong arm. Very confident young guy.
But to me, again, Iowa does a great job. They take the pressure off the quarterback with the running game. The running game is really good. The play-action passes off the running game, moving the quarterback around quite a bit, not allowing him to just be a stationary target in the pocket are all things that help a young quarterback in that situation.
Q. (Question regarding last week's kickoff return teams.)
COACH BREWSTER: No. Again, you know, a lot of the -- a lot of it has to do with hang time. It has to do with the hang time of the punt and the hang time of the kick. You know, it's all -- hang time determines how far down the field you are when the ball is caught.
We like to have our coverage guys inside the 30 yard line or to the 30 yard line when the ball is caught. So there are a number of things. Again, when you have an opportunity to make a tackle, you gotta make the tackle. We had a couple of missed tackles.
Again, we've been really good on special teams all year long and been a great coverage team, really good coverage team. We missed a couple tackles and didn't get the hang time. Again, there are a number of things that we need to improve this week.
Q. Talk about the difference between the end of the season last year and this year's team? The records are different obviously, but can you talk about that?
COACH BREWSTER: I think that you want to certainly be stronger down the stretch. You want to show strength down the stretch. Last year we obviously lost our last five games of the year; this year we've won two of the last three.
So, again, we're another year into the program. We're a stronger team this year. We've got a little bit more depth this year on this year's team. I think those things really help to you finish down the stretch and give yourselves a chance.
Q. Obviously coming off a win, you know, it's different from that emotional loss that you guys had.
COACH BREWSTER: Yeah, you know, I really think it's a good thing that we are able to separate the Wisconsin and Iowa games. They're two of the most important rivalry games we play here. Two of the most meaningful games. To play 'em back to back is a tough deal.
This year I was pleased the fact we played Wisconsin earlier in the year and we finished the season with Iowa. Again, that separation there is a good thing. Unfortunately, you know, we've played a 12-game season and haven't had a bye. You would like to have a bye somewhere in the schedule to give you a chance to take a deep breath and let the kids back away a little bit and regroup a little bit.
But we haven't had that opportunity. We play the schedule. Again, we're really excited to play Iowa to finish the season.
Q. The seniors, they're the only ones on the team to know what this feels like to have the Pig. Are they leading the charge this week? How badly do they want to get it back?
COACH BREWSTER: Well, I certainly think that they're highly motivated to play well Saturday. This is a trophy game that's a meaningful trophy game. It means a lot. Those kids understand that.
The seniors have had the Pig, and I think they would really like to get it back. We're gonna take a bus down to Iowa City, and, you know, it would be really exciting for our football team and seniors to bring the Pig home. That's how we're gonna prepare this week. That's how we're gonna go about our business this week, is with great confidence and great preparation and to go down there and play a trophy game that's very meaningful, and to win a trophy game.
Q. Even though it's on the road, is this in a way almost more of a Senior Day than this last weekend was?
COACH BREWSTER: No, I don't think so. I think Senior Day is about playing your last game in your home stadium. It was really significant for us this year to play our first season in TCF Bank Stadium, the inaugural season, and then win our last game, win our senior's last game at home.
I think that's something they'll feel good about for a long time.
Q. Is there any scenario in which Jeff Tow-Arnett can talk his way onto the field?
COACH BREWSTER: There are. He's an amazing kid. Him coming back from the injury that he had is nothing short of really miraculous. I would love to see him play in this game. He wants to play in this game really bad. So he's gonna practice today. He'll be out there at practice today. We're gonna let him go. He's been given clearance by the doctors to practice.
I'll tell you one thing, it means a lot to him to play in this game.
Q. Do you expect him to definitely play in the Bowl game?
COACH BREWSTER: I would say so for sure. I would say so for sure. Again, like I said, I'm certainly not gonna rule him out of this game. He was given the go-ahead to be able to play against South Dakota State, but we made a decision to give him another week. We felt like that would really help him.
So it'll be really exciting to see Jeff be back out there.
Q. What do you do with 55-0? Do you mention it a lot or not at all?
COACH BREWSTER: You know what, I think those that refuse to study history are doomed to repeat it. It's something that I live by. So we certainly understand last year's football game. We're not -- we can't dwell on it obviously, because that's last year. This is a totally new and different team. But we certainly understand that that is the fact. That is a fact that happened last year.
This football team is gonna do everything in their power to go down to Iowa City and play well, and certainly, you know, have an opportunity to win the football game.
Q. They're almost impossible to beat at home.
COACH BREWSTER: Impossible? Almost impossible?
Q. At home that he have a really good record.
COACH BREWSTER: There's no question they're a really good football team. I played there as a college player. Understand they have pink locker room just like they did back when I played.
But you know what? We control our attitude. We control our effort. We control what we can control. We're gonna go in there, and our guys are gonna be prepared to go play well.
Like I said it's an exciting opportunity.
Q. Do you like the idea of bussing down there?
COACH BREWSTER: You know what, I think it's refreshing. It really is. You take plane trips. To get on a bus -- and we're gonna go about two and a half hours, stop, have a sandwich, walk around a little bit, get back on the bus go two and a half more hours to the stadium and workout.
I think it's great. I think we're gonna watch a movie on the way down there as a football team. You know I think it's a really good thing. It's a refreshing kind of change. I think sometimes that's a good thing.
Q. Have you decided on the movie yet?
COACH BREWSTER: The seniors are in charge of the movie. I get veto power, though.
Q. What would it mean for you, this being the last chance for a trophy game this year, what would it mean for you to get win?
COACH BREWSTER: It's not about me at all. It's about our team. I want to see our team go out and play well and have an opportunity to win a trophy, meaningful game, see our team celebrate and being happy about a great rivalry, a great game.
So like I said, it's not about me at all. We're a team. It's about us as a team doing the best job we can against a really good Iowa team.
Q. They won a lot of close games. They really haven't buried anybody.
COACH BREWSTER: You know, we, along with Iowa, have won a lot games coming from behind. You know, Iowa has won a lot of games and we've won a lot games from behind. I think that's a great trait. I think it's a great trait of your football team that you're gonna play for 60 minutes.
Iowa's team certainly plays for 60 minutes, and they play extremely hard. Our football team does as well. Our football team has competed and played hard for 60 minutes in ever football game.
Again, you can't help but be pleased by that type of character.
Q. Does that Northwestern win do anything for this team's confidence?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, I don't know that it does anything for us. You know Northwestern went down there and Iowa lost their quarterback, and Northwestern won the football game because they played better than Iowa did. We've certainly studied the Northwestern/Iowa game really closely, different styles of play and that type of thing.
Northwestern did a nice job doing going down there and getting the victory. I don't know whether or not there's anything truly significant about -- as Sid said, they've had a lot of tough games at home. They've played a lot of close games a home and won some really close games at home. So they're a good home football team.
Q. How about the pink locker room? Do you just laugh that off?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, Hayden, did that many years ago. I don't buy into the concept that the color pink makes you maybe -- I don't know, it's supposed to make you passive, that type of thing. Mike White, when we went in there the first time, he put meat locker paper all over it. Covered the whole locker room. You didn't see an ounce of pink anywhere.
But I swear, I don't think the color of the locker room is gonna determine our performance.
Q. When Mike White put the paper up, did you win the game?
COACH BREWSTER: We did. We did. But I don't think it had to do with the paper. (Laughter.)
Q. Did you know Hayden?
COACH BREWSTER: I did. He was a great man. Great guy, and I really enjoyed the time that I got to know Coach Fry. Heck of a coach.
Q. You would never consider that up here?
COACH BREWSTER: No. Even though I do think our visiting locker room in TCF Bank Stadium is nice. It's really nice. Probably nicer than it needs to be, you know.
Q. You obviously developed pretty intense rivalry with Wisconsin. When you first came here, where did you get the sense where the rivalry games kind of stacked up in terms of importance to the fans?
COACH BREWSTER: Obviously the two games that stand out to me are Wisconsin and Iowa. Those two games are obviously very significant games to our fans and to our people.
I understood the trophies, I understood the rivalries coming in here. But you really get the magnitude of it once you're here. I've been in big rivalry games at other places, and these are as good as it gets anywhere in my mind.
Q. Any chance of Whaley moving up?
COACH BREWSTER: No. You know, Kevin has done a nice job. Obviously had a fumble in the game against South Dakota State that I wasn't real pleased about. But he's done a good job and he's running the football well.
Duane is gonna help us, too. DeLeon Eskridge is gonna continue to play some there. There's not one guy that has totally stood out and taken the position over.
Q. This is the last game of your third year here. Can you just kind of assess from the time you started to now what your thoughts are?
COACH BREWSTER: This is not the last game. So again, your question was what?
Q. Just during regular season. Just kind of assess from the time you got here until today where the program is.
COACH BREWSTER: Again, obviously I was brought here for a reason. Really excited about the opportunity to get to the University of Minnesota, and I'm really excited about the progress that we've made as a program.
Obviously we didn't win as many games as we would have liked to in the first year. Lost a bunch of -- six games by 23 points.
In our second year, we won seven games and went to a Bowl game.
In our third year, two out of our first three years we're going to Bowl games. Our guys are making progress on and off the field. Really pleased about the recruiting process. The recruiting has gone really well. We're gonna have another great class this year.
Again, those are the things that's really important. That your players are doing a good job both on and off the field. And also understanding that, you know, I came here with a vision and a belief that Minnesota football could be a champion again. Okay? It's been proven in the past, and it will be proven again.
I truly believe this program can be a champion-caliber program. My belief is even stronger today than it was when I first got here, because I know so much more about it.
Again, Minnesota, we've proven we're a Bowl team. Last year we were a Bowl team. This year. That's not the object. The object here is to try to put together a championship-caliber program, which hasn't been done in a really long time.
But, again, I'm extremely positive in my belief that the things that we need to do to build a championship program are being done. I believe with all my heart that it can be done here. I know there's a lot of sentiment that maybe it can't. I believe it can, and I truly believe we're doing the things necessary to make it happen.
End of FastScripts