|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 31, 2010
COACH BREWSTER: Obviously, going into Middle Tennessee Thursday night, when we go in there in the morning, it's going to be a great challenge for our football team. We're playing an opponent that won ten games last year, won their Bowl game, has outstanding talent on both sides of the ball, very good kicking game.
Rick Stockstill has done a great job at Middle Tennessee in the short period of time that he's been there. He's put together a great staff. We understand. We know the staff.
Mike Schultz, the new offensive coordinator came from Illinois last year, so we had a chance to see Mike last year and Randall McCray came from Wisconsin. He's their new defensive coordinator along with John Palermo.
John Palermo is a guy that I have a great deal of respect for. He's their defensive line coach. John coached here a few years ago, and a long time assistant at the University of Wisconsin.
But, again, they've got outstanding talent. They've got a good coaching staff. They've got outstanding talent. They're very confident. Certainly they're going to miss Dwight Dasher. Dwight Dasher to me is one of the most dynamic, explosive offensive football players in the country. And it's really unfortunate that Middle Tennessee is not going him for the first game. It's unfortunate for our fans, people watching the game because he is an absolutely electrifying player. It is just a tough situation that he's in where he's going to miss the game.
We've looked at Logan Kilgore. I've really studied Logan. He came from Bakersfield Community College. We have a lot of contacts in California, so we've been able to evaluate his talents, his skill. He's a guy that's very athletic. 6'3", 180 or so pounds. He can do the things that Dasher was going to do.
They're not going to change their offense with Logan in the game. He's going to be able to step in and execute the offense. They probably won't have as many quarterback runs with Kilgore, but, again, he's plenty athletic enough to do the things they want to do running the ball and very, very impressed with his ability to throw the football.
His numbers in the spring game indicate he's got an outstanding arm, and he's got a great grasp what they're trying to do. I think he was 21 out of 34, 320 yards, a couple touchdowns in the spring game. So certainly he's a good football player.
What it all adds up to is we've got a very tough assignment, a very tough assignment Thursday night. Going into their backyard, playing them at home, it's going to be a big game for them. It's the first time a Big Ten team has ventured into Murfreesboro, Tennessee to play them. I'm sure their crowd is going to be stirred up.
Like I said, I think it presents a great opening night challenge for our football team. To go into that type of environment with a young football team. We've got some experience on the offensive side. We're rather inexperienced on the defensive side.
But I think it's a very exciting challenge for our players to go into that type of environment and play an outstanding opponent in the non-conference schedule in the first game. As I said, we've got great respect for Middle Tennessee and what Rick's accomplished there.
What I want to do is go through the depth chart, guys, with you. Let you know who is going to start for us, who is going to play for us on the offensive side of the ball at left tackle.
Olson will start at left guard. Chris Bunders will play backed up by Ryan Orton. Center, D.J. Burris, backed up by Ryan Wynn. Matt Carufel, Ryan Orton, Jeff Wells, Brooks Michael, Adam Weber, MarQueis Gray at quarterback, Da'Jon McKnight, Brandon Green at one wideout, Troy Stoudermire, and Bryant Allen at the other, Eric Lair, and Tiree Eure at the end, Jon Hoese and Ed Cotton at fullback. Dwayne Bennett, and DeLeon Eskridge at tailback.
Those will be our starters and our back-ups in the game on Thursday night.
On defense, starting at defensive end, D.L. Wilhite backed up by Kendall Gregory-McGhee. The nose is going to be Jewhan Edwards backed up by Austin Hahn. Brandon Kirksey, Anthony Jacobs at the three. Matt Garin backed up by Ra'Shede Hageman at defensive end. Gary Tinsley at the mike linebacker backed up by Spencer Reeves. Keanon Cooper, Aaron Hill, Mike Rallis, Ryan Grant.
In the secondary, it will be Ryan Collado backed up by Brock Vereen, Christyn Lewis backed up by Shady Salamon. James manual backed up by Kenny Watkins, and at the other cornerback position, Michael Carter will be backed up by Kyle Henderson.
Our specialist Eric Ellestad will kick, Danny Orseske will punt, Ryan Collado, Troy Stoudermire, and Brandon Green will be punt returners. Troy Stoudermire and Ryan Collado will be kickoff returners. Jake Filkins will long snap for us, and our holder will be Adam Lueck.
As far as personnel is concerned Dom Alford and Kyle Theret will not play due to violation of team policy. And that pretty much talks about the depth chart. Questions?
Q. Defensively they have an awful lot of experience. It will be tough for your offense?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, it's going to be interesting to see. We've got some experience on the offensive side of the ball. We've seen a lot of different things. We've prepared, I think, extremely well for Middle Tennessee. Tried to show our team as many looks as we possibly could.
I think the one thing in a first game, it's all about adjusting to the unknown. There's going to be unknowns there for them and there's going to be unknowns for us. And how we, as coaches, adjust to those unknowns, I think, will be very important in this game.
But our preparation has been outstanding. I think we've had a great camp, particularly offensively. Really pleased with Adam weber's leadership at quarterback, and the offensive line play has been really good. So I anticipate us to play very well offensively.
Q. So getting your leaders to develop on the defensive side of the ball and all the new players there?
COACH BREWSTER: We have two elected captains in Kim Royston and Brandon Kirksey, and they're two outstanding leaders. And Mike Rollis is certainly a leader of our defense, and I feel very good about who we have on defense and the type of leadership that we're getting.
You forget a little bit. A lot of these guys have played. They've been in the heat of battle. It isn't like these guys have never been in games before. Most of our guys on the defensive side have been in games and they understand, you know, what the battle is about.
Q. How different is your offense going to look this year?
COACH BREWSTER: I don't think that it's going to look a lot different. I think that hopefully the execution will be better. Our ability to run the ball will be better: Play-action pass, moving the quarterback around, different launch points in the pocket. But I don't think that you're going to see a wholesale change in how it looks.
It's a pro style offense. And the big thing for us is execution, is being able to execute better and do things better. So I don't think that you'll see us play Thursday night and say I don't know what that looks like.
Q. Going into the season, how much pressure does the team put on itself?
COACH BREWSTER: We all work very hard. We work very hard to build the best football team that we can build. You know, our kids have committed a whole bunch in being an improved football team. Being a better football team. Our staff has done the same thing.
This has been our best camp since we've been at Minnesota. You know, I anticipate us to continue to take the next step and be an improved football team. You know, it's a fun time. You know, every year at this time you're getting ready to play your first game. There is great optimism. We feel very good about our team and the commitment that our team has made. We're just excited to go play a game.
You know, it's really unfortunate that in college football you don't get a chance to test your product, to test your team prior to the first game. But we certainly have a great test on Thursday night, and I'm excited to really see our team play. I'm excited to see them go out, have some fun and get after it. And I think that's exactly what our team's going to do.
I don't think there's any pressure whatsoever on anybody. I think our team really embraces the schedule, the challenges that the schedule presents. I think this football team's going to have a lot of fun.
Q. (No microphone) will make the trip then, or has that been determined yet?
COACH BREWSTER: I don't think it's 100% certain at this point that he's going to make the trip. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. If it's not, it's not. He needs to be with his family at this point in time.
I can't even imagine what that young guy's feeling at this point with his father laying in the hospital, struggling to stay alive. It puts everything in perspective, it really does.
Q. If MarQueis has an impact on the game, how much of a success, or how tricky will it be to balance your desire to get him in there and make big plays knowing that he might have to be the quarterback in the fourth quarter?
COACH BREWSTER: I don't think it plays into it at all. I think that MarQueis is going to play. He's going to play extensively at wide receiver. I think we've done a good job of allowing him to continue to prepare as a quarterback and develop as a quarterback.
But he's a special talent. He's picked up the wide receiver position very easily. There's not a concern on our part about him playing two positions. He's the number two quarterback, and if he's forced to play at quarterback, I think he's prepared to step in and play well. If he's not playing quarterback, he is really a threat as wide receiver.
I've just been extremely pleased with his ability at the receiver position when you put MarQueis, Da'Jon, Troy, Eric Lair on the field together along with Adam weber and a tailback, that's a nice group of skilled athletes.
Q. There's no hesitation to keep in fresh in case something would happen to Adam?
COACH BREWSTER: Keep him fresh?
Q. Just it's going to be 80Â° or something. As long as he's playing well out there, no hesitations to keep him out there?
COACH BREWSTER: No, he's a young man who is in very good physical condition. I don't see that being an issue.
Q. Can you talk about Weber's development from his first year until now? Specifically as a leader and the grasp of the offense?
COACH BREWSTER: I think first, I've never seen Adam more confident than he is right now. His preparation has been outstanding. I think he's really benefited with Jeff Horton. I think Jeff has done a nice job of preparing him with what we're doing offensively. There is a great fit to match his skills to what we're doing. We're not asking him to do things that he's not capable of doing.
I think more than anything he's in great physical condition. You know, last year, obviously, with the surgery he wasn't in as good of shape. I don't think he felt as good about himself. Right now Adam Weber feels really good about himself, and he should. He's had a great summer, and he's prepared to go lead our team.
So I couldn't feel any better about Weber and his leadership, his development as a quarterback. I think that his fifth year will certainly be his best year. I think he's poised to have an outstanding season.
We've got to do a nice job, as I've said all along, with surrounding players that are capable of doing their jobs. But I anticipate that happening as well.
Q. With the mistakes that he made last year, how much of that was him and how much of that was just the offense and trying to get a grasp of that in his first year?
COACH BREWSTER: I think there is enough to go around for everybody on the offensive side of the ball. We weren't nearly as consistent as a unit offensively last year as we wanted to be. Is that all Adam's fault? Absolutely not. Does he take his share of the blame? Absolutely. Do I take my share of the blame? Absolutely. We're all in this thing together.
What we want to do is we want to have an offense that goes out and executes with consistency. We have an identity offensively of who we want to be. We're not going to deviate from our identity. We are who we are.
Again, like I said, I'm really excited to see our guys go out and play on Thursday night and be a consistent offensive football team in all areas.
Q. You take more of your share of the blame sometimes because the quarterback is so visible. How do you handle some of the public criticism that you get?
COACH BREWSTER: I don't know that I've ever been around in college football a better representative of our team, our university, his poise, his candor. You've got to tip your hat to a young guy like Adam Weber. He doesn't point any fingers at anybody. The only finger he points is at himself. I want to do a better job. I need to do a better job.
I just think he is one classy, sharp young man. Again, like I said, he's poised to go out and play really well as a senior.
Q. How did the scouting go? Did you see a lot of film on him? How did you get your evaluations to what he can do?
COACH BREWSTER: I have a number of friends in the California junior college system. So I reached out to some of my friends and was able to collect some videotape of Logan. A number of games that he played in in junior college, and was able to get a good grasp of his abilities.
He's a talented young quarterback. He really is. Again, the biggest thing there is I don't see them getting away from who they are. There is not a point a week before the first game going to be a wholesale change in what they're trying to do offensively. You know, he's an impressive young guy.
Q. In regards to your running back rotation, how do you decide how many carries he has?
COACH BREWSTER: We don't have a set number on carries for the running backs. What we want to do is we want to establish a running game. We want to come out and establish that we're going to be able to consistently run the football with success, and we're not really caught up with who is doing the running.
Duane Bennett will start the game. Duane has had a great camp. Anybody who has seen the scrimmages can see he's back. He's back to being 100% pre the knee surgery. So we really expect Duane to play well. DeLeon Eskridge is a veteran experienced guy. I think we're all excited to see Donnell Kirkwood. I think Donnell has a chance to be a good back as well.
So, again, it's not about numbers and carries. We're going to play into this thing and see who gets a hot hand that type of thing. I anticipate all three runners getting multiple carries.
Q. How much will James Manuel see on Thursday?
COACH BREWSTER: James Manuel will start, and I think he's going to play quite a bit. He's going to play a lot. He's a young guy, he's a talented young guy. He's going to get baptism under fire Thursday night on national TV. But I think he's going to hold up really well.
He's been a very impressive player in this camp. Physically he's really impressive. What's going to be interesting is how does a young guy perform under the lights on national TV in his first college ballgame? That's going to be fun to see.
Q. (No microphone)?
COACH BREWSTER: I'm not going to rule him out because there is a chance he could play, but I think it's a small chance. Just being honest with you. I think it's a small chance.
Q. As far as Middle Tennessee, is it just a wait-and-see?
COACH BREWSTER: He's close. He's close. But with that type of injury, I think you guys all understand. I don't want to put him out there until I'm really a hundred percent confident that he's ready. Him being in uniform and being out there with his team, I think is an amazing accomplishment in itself.
Q. Spending some time here at the university and running this program, is it where you wanted it to be right now? Have you changed some things along the way after having the experience of running this program for a couple years?
COACH BREWSTER: Obviously, we would have liked to have won more games. We would have liked to have won more trophy games at this point. But we're proud of the accomplishments that we've had of our program.
When you take over a program, there are so many different elements that you guys don't comprehend. That you guys have no idea behind the scenes that you're working on.
So what we've tried to do is really build a great base, a great foundation for our program. We feel like we've done that. We feel like we've recruited well. We've taken the steps necessary to have the type of program that can legitimately say we've got a chance to compete for a championship as we move forward.
There's a lot of talented young players in this program right now. It's a much different looking team than the one we inherited. It is what it is. So from that perspective, I'm very pleased with the direction of our team and where we're going.
I'm not the most patient guy in the world. I'd like to do everything yesterday, but I also understand that it's a process. It's very similar to the process that we had at the University of North Carolina, very similar. Even though at North Carolina we may have had a few more players than we had here at Minnesota, it was a process, a real process of going from one win, one win, six wins, seven wins. We went one win, seven wins our second year.
So, again, I think that we've taken a lot of very positive steps, and we're going to continue to do that.
Q. There's been so much curiosity about Ra'Shede Hageman and the impact he might have. What are you looking for from him in the first game? Is he coming off the bench?
COACH BREWSTER: I think Ra'Shede is a very talented young guy who is learning the position of defensive end. He was a tight end in high school, defensive end. He's a young guy who just has to continue to grow.
And, again, I can't wait to watch him play on Thursday night to see how he's going to perform, and see how he's going to react.
But he's a 6'6", 295 pound guy that is the strongest player on our team. He's got great speed, and it's all there. We've just got to -- one of the things that we've got to do with Ra'Shede and I've talked to Tim Cross, is we've got to have patience.
You look at the young man and you want him to be a dominating force right now, today. But we've got to have patience with him. I think he's going to develop into being a really good player. He has the ability on Thursday night to make some plays to impact the game. What you're trying to find with him is a level of consistency, and that will come.
Q. Is it for the reasons that you decided not to start him, is it Garin just impressed you a little more at this time?
COACH BREWSTER: Matt's done a nice job. He really has. Matt's done a great job. He's developed well, he's gotten bigger and stronger. And Matt has been a defensive player his whole life. He's a little bit further ahead right now from a fundamental standpoint, from a technique standpoint.
He certainly doesn't have the physical attributes of Ra'Shede, but Matt Garin's a really good football player.
You know, it's exciting to have that type of talent, you know, Matt Garin, Ra'Shede, Hageman, Brandon Kirksey, Anthony Jacobs, Jewhan Edwards. D.L. Wilhite, I can't wait to watch him play on Thursday night. His speed off the edge is something that we've sorely lacked, and it's going to be really good to see D.L. play, and that type of athletic ability and speed.
Q. Would you consider putting Ra'Shede inside or he hasn't really practiced much?
COACH BREWSTER: Ra'Shede could potentially play inside as well. Right now we've got him playing on the tight end. We think that's a really good spot for him because tight ends are really going to struggle with his size and strength.
Q. You're not going to be able to watch, but Decker's coming back and playing Thursday night. Are you following his progress and is this just going to be a special thing to happen?
COACH BREWSTER: Yeah, I really do. What's more special is the four guys we've got playing for the Vikings. You know, that's really exciting. I turned on the game the other night. You know, you see Reeves Lloyd and you see Triplett and Marcus.
Really impressed with what Logan Payne's doing for those guys. Marcus picks the ball off and took a lot of abuse here. He got tackled by the quarterback, but it's exciting, you know, to see our guys move on to the next level.
Very few of them will make it. That is a tough row to hoe, playing in the National Football League. But Eric Decker's a guy that I know will be an outstanding NFL player.
Can you imagine how hard his heart's going to be beating playing against the Vikings? That's good stuff.
Q. A little more about the guys that won't play because of team policies. Are you obviously disappointed about that?
COACH BREWSTER: Will not play due to violation of team policy.
Q. Is that since yesterday?
COACH BREWSTER: It's for right now.
End of FastScripts