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UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 7, 2010
COACH BREWSTER: I'd like to begin by sending our very heartfelt condolences to the Hoese family. Last night we lost a member of the Golden Gopher football family in Terry Hoese. Terry had a stroke last week. He battled extremely hard and he lost that fight last night. And very sad night and very sad morning for all of us. Terry was an amazing husband, father, was at every gofer victory walk, was at every gofer game since I've been head football coach at the University of Minnesota. Extremely supportive of our program. The relationship that Jon Hoese and Terry Hoese had was very special. And we're going to help Jon, Sharon, Tammy, and Chad through this hard time.
And I really like to say how much I spoke to the Hoese's last night, how much I appreciate the Gopher football family reaching out to the Hoese family and letting them know that there's a lot of support out there for them as a family, and what a wonderful man Terry Hoese was.
To pass at a very young age, I think Terry was 53, is just very unfortunate. But, again, I'd like to say thank you to our fans for supporting them. I know how much Sharon Hoese appreciates all of the support that she's gotten. I think that she said there's been over 20,000 people respond to the Hoese family on the caring bridge site that they had set up for Terry. So, again, it's a tough deal.
Jon, I'm not sure what his situation is going to be this week, whether or not he's going to be with us very much. Whether or not he's going to play in the game against South Dakota. That will be determined later in the week. They're just trying to work through the arrangements as a family at this particular point.
Going back to Middle Tennessee last Thursday night, I thought it was a great opener for our football team. To take our team on the road and go play a very good Middle Tennessee state team in their backyard in that environment down there and play as well as we played, very pleased. Extremely pleased. And going back and looking at the tape, obviously we did a lot of good things. I think it all starts with the fact that we set a school record as far as time of possession is concerned.
I'd never been around a football team to have 45 minutes and 24 seconds of possession time. Setting a school record with time of possession, doing the things we did, playing the game with minimal penalties, no turnovers, a lot of very positive things. A lot of coachable moments.
There are some things that we'll work on this week that we need to improve at, get better at. But, again, this football team has worked extremely hard. We're going to stay focused on the things that we need to do to improve as a football team between last week and this week. Obviously we know that South Dakota is going to be very excited to come in here on Saturday and play us. They've got a good football team. To play a Big Ten opponent, to play in TCF Bank Stadium, it's going to be very exciting to them.
But, again, before we get there, it's about us. And it's about the things that we do as a team to improve, and that's, you know, my message to our team this week, is to see every single person on our team what they can take from the Middle Tennessee game and do better against South Dakota. And I think that will serve us well.
Before I get to South Dakota, you know, the player of the week award is against Middle Tennessee. I think everybody will understand the offensive player of the week was Duane Bennett. The defensive player of the week was Mike Rallis. The special forces player of the week is shared by Jon Hoese and Kenny Watkins. The hard-hat hit of the week is Duane Bennett. That is very exciting to see our tailback not only win the offensive player of the week, but also win the award for the hardest hit of the week when he stepped up and blocked the blitzing linebacker and it about knocked his helmet off. Just an outstanding play by Duane again.
Our lunch pail award goes to the offensive line, tight ends and fullbacks. Those guys obviously played outstanding in the game.
The other lunch pail award to guys. The extra effort award goes to D.L. Wilhite. He just chased all night long. They were set-up. They had the quarterback in the gun and the quick passing game from the gun. We knew we weren't going to get to the quarterback a whole lot. But I tell you what, he chased the football all night long and just did a great job as far as his effort was concerned.
Our great teammate award goes to Jon Hoese. You know, I can't even tell you what Jon Hoese means to our football team. How important he is. The emotion, the scene that we had in the locker room after the game when we presented Jon Hoese with the game ball which we knew was going to his father, Terry, was like nothing that I've ever been a part of. It was just an extremely emotional moment. Again, Jon means so much to us, and he wins the great teammate award.
These guys are very significant. The scout offensive player of the week. The guy that really helped us last week prepare for Middle Tennessee, Lamonte Edwards, the scout defensive player of the week is a co-award winner, Chase Haviland and Dwayne Mitchell. Both did a great job in helping us and the scout players are obviously invaluable for us and what we're trying to accomplish.
As you look at the depth chart, there is absolutely no changes in the depth chart. We're very excited. We came out of the Middle Tennessee game in great shape. No injuries. Everybody will be back this week. Kyle Theret and Dom Alford will continue indefinite suspensions. They'll not be part of the game against South Dakota. And so that's it as far as the depth chart is concerned.
Again, like I said, it's a big football game for South Dakota. It's very special for them to be able to play a Big Ten opponent in our house, and we understand that. We understand how excited they're going to be. We understand last year having a tough time against South Dakota State and how well they came in here and played. And we know we're going to see a very similar effort from South Dakota.
What I want to make certain of is our guys do a great job in their preparation. We had outstanding preparation all summer long throughout training camp and preparing for Middle Tennessee. That's why we went out and played so well. And my challenge to our football team is to make certain that we have the same focus, the same preparation this week for South Dakota. And that is what we'll get out of our football team.
Q. How different is this year from last year? The excitement level and things like that?
COACH BREWSTER: I think it's absolutely huge. I think it's huge. I think our kids are extremely excited about being at home and playing in TCF Bank Stadium.
I spoke to over 7,000 freshmen students the other night in TCF Bank Stadium, and they were bouncing off the walls, excited about the game on Saturday. So I think the Gopher nation is really Jacked up about playing a home game on Saturday. We're really excited as a football team to open the season at home. So it's going to be a lot of fun.
Q. Is it exciting for the team -- (Indiscernible)?
COACH BREWSTER: For who?
Q. I don't know who you're referring to, us as a team? We're fired up. We are absolutely jacked about playing in TCF Bank Stadium. And I know our fans are excited about seeing us play in TCF on Saturday night. And coming off an excellent performance against Middle Tennessee State. I think everybody's jacked up. Are you? Talk about having the two deep last week.
COACH BREWSTER: I think it's really important. I think it's really important to our team. It's important to our staff that these guys are going to continue to work and improve together. I think we saw significant improvement with the offensive line from last year to this year's first game. And a lot of that has to do with those guys working well together.
There was outstanding communication. And again, the continuity of the lineups and no changes is certainly going to be beneficial to us. There is no question about that.
Q. For the running game to have come out against Middle Tennessee State and have the success you've had, how important is that to the confidence for your running game and to have Duane Bennett?
COACH BREWSTER: It's really important. It gives us great confidence because what we're able to do is execute a plan. We put a plan together, and we've been working on that plan to reap the rewards of that plan and the execution of the plan was really good for our players. I think our players felt really good about it. They felt good about the plan going in, and then certainly after the game when you look at the numbers of the game and you see what we did offensively and how we did it, I think our players feel good about that.
Q. Is there any point in the spring football practice that you saw Bennett turn the corner and it looked to you like he was there?
COACH BREWSTER: I think it started in the spring. I thought Duane had an outstanding spring. There is nobody more committed to our strength program than Duane Bennett. He's an extremely strong, physical young guy. And I thinks his work with Mark Hill and Will Peoples has certainly benefited him in a great way.
But you can see throughout the spring and when we got into fall camp he broke a couple of long runs. Every day in practice he's extremely determined. Just the determination he showed on the first run, the opening play of the game against Middle Tennessee where I think his first point of contact was at six yards, and he finished the run off at 32 yards. I think that said a lot about what Duane was going to be about.
Again, he's an extremely determined young guy. I'm very pleased for him that he played so well. And if I open Duane Bennett to continue just like he was the other night. He's not going to take any backwards steps. He's going to keep pushing forward.
Q. You had some new players starting in the secondary Thursday night. How do you evaluate the secondary?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, obviously the biggest plus for our defense is they weren't out there very long. Middle Tennessee had the ball for I think eight minutes in the first half, and six minutes in the second. They still combined to have 40 plays. The biggest challenge for us defensively was understanding the speed and the tempo in which Middle Tennessee was going to play. That's tough. They were playing extremely fast.
So, again, it was a great challenge for those guys. We gave up a couple of plays. I thought we got a little bit unsettled some in the second quarter as far as the speed and pace of the game. As far as getting lined up. We missed tackles in the game certainly, but overall you look at the performance of that group, and they did a nice job. I think they'll do nothing but get better playing each week.
Q. Is Royston going to playing this week?
COACH BREWSTER: He's got a chance. But I'm be going to play Kim until he can participate fully in a fully padded practice from the beginning of practice till the end. He's not ready to do that yet, but hopefully he's going to be ready to do that soon.
Q. Describe South Dakota as a team from what you've seen?
COACH BREWSTER: Very hard-nosed, physical bunch. Very big offensive line. Big, physical group on the offensive line. A young quarterback, inexperienced. Going to try to run the football. Nice job with play-action pass. Three-four defensive football team which is a little bit different. You don't see a whole lot of true three-four defenses, three-four under front.
But, again, that is something that we'll spend a lot of time working on this week. There are a lot of talented players there. They've done a nice job there. I think the head coach has been there seven years. His program has been implemented, and they do a nice job. Again, like I said, really proud of two of their safeties that started their careers here, Shane Potter and Jimmy Thompson.
I think shane potter had 16 tackles against central floor. Just an outstanding performance by him and very proud of him. I think Jimmy Thompson unfortunately got hurt early in the Central Florida game. I'm not sure how badly he was hurt, but very proud of those two guys who transferred to South Dakota and are doing a heck of a job for those guys.
Again, that is all part of the excitement that they're going to have about playing Minnesota. You know, again, that's good. They do a nice job.
Q. Talk about the 3-4 defense as well. Anything you would do differently or prepare for differently as opposed to what you saw last week?
COACH BREWSTER: No, it's just something that you don't see a whole lot of. A true three-four defense with two stand-up outside linebackers. Again, it's very similar to just the true under front with a shaded nose. They don't play a zero nose, a head-up technique on the nose. So what it does is it forces you to take a look at some of the things you do in protection, some of your protection schemes are a little bit different. Do you full slide the protection exactly?
You know, so we've got our plan in place. In the National Football League, we saw a three-four quite a bit. So it's a little bit different in the college game.
Q. How would you compare your confidence in the offensive line from this year to last year?
COACH BREWSTER: Again, I think our offensive line has done an excellent job. Very pleased. When you set a school record for time of possession, that is due in large part to the offensive line, to the tight ends. Also our receivers did a great job blocking.
So, again, I'm very pleased with that group. The exciting thing is I think they're going to do nothing but get better as we continue to play. To me that's very positive.
Q. What about the success from Thursday, how does that work into your future game plans?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, it's an identity. We're going to try to go into each and every game running the football. Establish the football. Run stunts, twists, blitzes, everything you could possibly see, we saw. I think that's a great thing. A great thing for our line. Our line did such a nice job of communicating, not panicking, working together as a unit, sorting it out. It was really nice to see.
Q. Does your line feed off of it and get more exciting?
COACH BREWSTER: Yeah, every offensive lineman I've ever been around wants to run the ball. They take great pleasure in pounding the rock and running the football. I don't think our line's any different.
Obviously, we're going to have to be more balanced as we move forward. We're going to have to throw the football more as we move forward, and we will. We're not going to be a 70-30 offensive football team. You know, we'll continue to work on the passing game and get better there.
But I think it all starts with that mentality up front that, hey, you know what? You've got nine guys here. We're still going to run the football. We're still going to execute the plan that we've got in place. So I think that that really gives a sense of confidence to that front five.
Q. Are you holding anything back in the preseason for USC and for the Big Ten?
COACH BREWSTER: No, not at all. Our only objective is to take each week as the season unto itself. Our goal was to be 1-0 last week. Our goal is to be 1-0 this week.
Our season, our goal is to beat South Dakota, and that is the only thing we've got on our minds. I haven't thought for two seconds about Southern Cal.
Saturday I was able to sit back and watch some Big Ten football. I was able to see Michigan State, I was able to see Purdue, and I was able to see Michigan. We don't play them, but, again, I think that we talk about making sure we've got our blinders on, okay. We wear blinders as a team to stay focused on the task at hand, and the task at hand is South Dakota. We'll worry about those other teams once we get there.
Q. Do you expect to open the playbook a little more with the passing game this week than you did or is 60 rushes the way you want to go?
COACH BREWSTER: Again, you're going to do what you've got to do to win the football game. Obviously we're going to run the football against South Dakota. Depending upon how the game progresses, we may throw the ball a few more times. A few different things as far as the passing game is concerned.
But you're not going to see a big change in plan. You're not going to see a big change in plan all season long. We are going to do what we do and do it as well as we can possibly do it. You know, I think that's the thing about our team this year is that we're going to get good at a few things and be excited about it. You know, it's funny, Gerri DiNardo called me -- I talked to Gerri DiNardo and he said there are a lot of people who think running the football 68 times is boring. I didn't find it boring at all. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I've seen in a long time. It was really exciting.
Q. After watching Big Ten game this weekend, are you confident that this running game will be successful against some of those teams?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, without studying the opponents when you're watching a TV copy you don't get a chance to see. But I feel confident about our team. I like our team. I like our team's commitment and focus.
So each and every week I think we'll give ourselves an opportunity with our game plan to be successful. And that is, I think the key to success is having a great plan and kids having confidence in the plan.
Q. Have many of his teammates been reaching out to Jon? And will there be services?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, I don't know. I'm sure that Jon's teammates -- like I said in the locker room after the game on Saturday night, it was extremely special. And I'm sure that a number of guys have reached out to Jon to let him know that they're there for him. Right now I think Jon's immersed in trying to help his mother sort through a lot of the details and that type of thing. I think that the arrangements are pending. I don't know exactly when they're going to be.
Like I said, there's been an overwhelming amount of compassion and support for the Hoese family.
Q. If Hoese is not able to play, will you use your multiple tight ends?
COACH BREWSTER: We call our personnel groupings, 21 personnel, 12 personnel is a grouping where there's a tailback in the game and two tight ends in the game and two receivers in the game. The F-position, which is the other tight end in the game plays a fullback position. And you've seen us in training camp and you've seen the things that we do with Eric Lair back there, and Collin McGarry. You know, I'm pleased with Ed Cotton. Ed Cotton is a young kid who I think can help us at the fullback position as well. So that will be the direction we go.
If Jon was not available we'd look at Eric and Collin out of the gate.
Q. There were only four penalties, how pleased were you with that?
COACH BREWSTER: In looking at a lot of the games, last night Boise had 13 penalties in the game. You looked at them and they put nine quarterback center exchanges on the ground in the first game. So you never know what you're going to get going into the first game.
We've really emphasized on being a smart football team. We've had officials at practice, we've talked situationally about being a smart football team, and it was nice to see us go out and execute and not have a turn over. You know, have very few penalties.
I thought that we played a smart football game, and that was very pleasing for us.
Q. What is your favorite part of the new stadium?
COACH BREWSTER: For us, and you guys don't get in there very much, but the locker room is truly. The field itself is wonderful. It's a great surface to play on. It's great. But for a football team, your home space is your home team locker room, and there is not a better home team locker room in America, period, than our home team locker room at TCF Bank Stadium. It is truly spectacular.
I don't know, some of you guys in this room may have been able to be in there. I've been in a lot of locker rooms in my day, and I've never seen one as nice as that is, and our kids take a great deal of pride in being in there.
Q. Is it about the space or amenities?
COACH BREWSTER: Have you been in there?
Q. No, it's closed.
COACH BREWSTER: Somebody share. I shouldn't have to tell. Who has been in the locker room in our home team locker room?
Q. I have. You've got all those pictures of guys who have played there, similar positions. And they've went all out in that locker room. Better than any in the National Football League?
COACH BREWSTER: Yeah, it's really a spectacular space. It really is. Hopefully you can get a chance, Phil, to get in there. It's really nice.
Q. You've been around back to the NFL. And you've seen what it takes to be successful. With Ben, what about his running style and mentality makes him work?
COACH BREWSTER: He's an extremely determined runner. Post knee injury, now that he's gotten back, he's gotten back his -- so much a big part of coming off a knee injury is the mental part of it. He's got that ability to jump cut. When you think about his size, he's got good size, excellent strength, he's got very good explosiveness.
Again, to me, his ability after contact to keep the run alive is really, I think, what makes him kind of special. Just the way that he's finishing every run.
How many times did it look like in the game against Middle Tennessee where he was stopped and the pile went about two or three more yards. How valuable are those last two or three yards to every possession?
What it meant was the fact that we were able to keep the ball for almost 46 minutes in the football game. In large part due to Duane Bennett's ability to finish runs, and I think that's a great attribute for backs to have, and he's got it.
Q. Do you think he's still got the same amount of juice at the end?
COACH BREWSTER: You know what, he came to me in the locker room and he said, coach, I very easily could have carried it ten more times. He was leading cheers in the locker room, and obviously he was very excited.
But, again, he seemed very fresh. I'd like, to again, you talk about our strength and conditioning program, everybody talked about the heat in Middle Tennessee, and we certainly had a concern about that. But I was very pleased with how we finished that game. We finished the game stronger than our opponent did in their environment, and that is something that I think will serve us well.
Q. Did you do anything special getting plays and time? You came up to the line of scrimmage 12, 13, 14 seconds on the clock?
COACH BREWSTER: Yeah, we had really good time, Dave, as far as I thought the communication from boundary to quarterback was excellent. I thought we did a nice job signaling plays in a very timely manner.
You know, one or two times, Dave, I thought we got in situations. The one mishandled quarterback center exchange we had. We were down on the clock. They were trying to get the ball snapped, but we had very few of those. And I was really pleased with the overall operation of the game.
Q. Was the game plan a three-way split of the rush and carries? Or did you anticipate that Duane would get more as the game went on?
COACH BREWSTER: No, we went into the game knowing that Duane was going to get probably more of the carries than the other two. And that's the way it turned out, the way it played out. I thought that Donnell Kirkwood got just the right amount of work in an opening game for a true freshman. Just the right amount of work. And I think we'll continue to see that.
And DeLeon Eskridge again gave us good, hard carries in the game. And we're fortunate that we've got three backs that can all help us win games.
Q. The benefits of a back to have a certain amount of carries when he gets into the rhythm?
COACH BREWSTER: I think it benefits some backs more than others. I think some backs you see get worse as the runner as the game progresses. And other backs get stronger and get better. You know, it's an interesting deal there as far as looking at backs. I think you're correct. With Duane Bennett, I think he's a guy like a lot of backs that he gets lathered up pretty good, and he's going to continue to run the ball hard in the fourth quarter and in the third quarter the more carries he gets.
End of FastScripts