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UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 5, 2010
COACH BREWSTER: Just begin with obviously a tough loss to Northwestern. As is the case in one point losses, two or three plays are the defining moments or defining plays in the game in the difference between winning and losing.
We came in on Sunday and immediately began preparation for Wisconsin, looking at the things that we needed to do to make corrections from the Northwestern game. We started our scouting report immediately on Wisconsin.
This is a very special week for our coaches, for our players, for our fans. The longest running rivalry in college football. I believe it's 59 wins for Minnesota; 52 for Wisconsin; 8 ties through the years. Just not a whole a lot of discussion needs to take place when you talk about Minnesota versus Wisconsin.
Our players certainly understand that it's a trophy game. It's a very meaningful football game to everybody. I think our team understands that it's a great opportunity for our football team to play an outstanding team like Wisconsin in their backyard.
To me, it's the ultimate challenge. It's the ultimate challenge for our coaching staff and for our players alike to do a great job in our preparation and get ready to get on the bus and go to Madison on Friday. Just a great challenge.
When you look at Wisconsin on offense, obviously I think it all starts up front with their offensive line, a very big, strong, physical offensive line. They do an outing job with their schemes and the running game. Really, really think that Scott Tolzien does a great job of running their offense. He does a great job obviously of getting them in plays at the line of scrimmage, but also getting the ball to John Clay. I think John Clay is a big, physical back, and certainly will present a great challenge to us defensively to be able to slow him down.
A true freshman, James White, has really done a nice job for them. Ball gets his carries. They're similar to what we're doing here with our runningbacks. All three of them play and all three of 'em are really good. Certainly I think Clay, at his size and exactly what they do getting him the football, showing great patience, running the ball, he's a 4- or 6-yard runner, and then he leans on you a little bit and he can go a 20-, 25-yard run.
So it's gonna be a great challenge for our defense to accept the challenge, accept the physicality that Wisconsin wants to play with, and match them. Where you go from there is Tolzien does a great job in in the play action pass game with a success full running game like they have. They have one of the best tight end in the Big 10 in Kendricks. He's just an outstanding player.
They've got receivers in Toon, Gilreath, Anderson. It's a very good offensive football team, and, again, will present many challenges to us defensively. But, again, I think it all starts with the physicality and being able to match the physicality.
Wisconsin on defense, again, they give up very few explosive plays. Very few runs over 12; passes over 20. Do a really nice job with coverage in the secondary. I think J.J. Watt, their defensive end, is really an outstanding player. I think he's got to be one of the better defenseman linemen in the Big 10. He particularly does a great job of batting balls. At 6'6", he does a great job getting his hands up. He's really an outstanding player.
A very well-coached football team that has an excellent track record playing at home in front of their people. Again, like I said, I think saying that it's the ultimate challenge for our team is saying it properly. To take our team on the road and play them over there is just, you know, extremely exciting.
Like I said, we're gonna practice and plan accordingly this week and take a team over to Madison. We've had three straight three-point games with Wisconsin. The first year a three-point game at Wisconsin the second year, last year.
We know that's exactly what type of game it's gonna be. That's what it's gonna be on Saturday. It's gonna be a game that comes down to the fourth quarter. The team that does a great job with the defining moments in the third and fourth quarter is gonna be the team that wins.
That's where we're trying to take our team. A team that expects to succeed in the defining moments of the game. It's gonna be a great battle. It's one that our football team I know, and myself, is looking forward to very much.
And as you look at the depth chart, guys, very few changes. As you look in the back end on defense, James Manuel will start at string safety; Kyle Theret will start at free safety; Kyle Henderson and Michael Carpenter will be the corners.
There shouldn't be any more changes as far as the offensive side is concerned. That's how we'll lineup defensively.
Q. On Saturday you were bringing in a lot subs on defense. Is that going to be the norm going forward?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, I think that it's important that you're able to play a number of guys defensively. Particularly from a depth standpoint, keeping your guys fresh in the game. Saturday is gonna be a very physical football game. We want to make sure that we keep fresh guys on the field.
We've got to do a really good job offensively of keeping our defense off the field. It was exciting Saturday for me to see all the young guys that we had on the field, and the young guys playing well and adjusting to the game and making some adjustments.
I thought that we really improved as the game progressed defensively. I think that if we can continued to do that -- and I've said how close we are as a football team. You know how close we are. Every game we've been in has been a dogfight, and it's been determined by two or three, four defining plays in the game.
I think by playing a number of players we're gonna give ourselves a chance to be successful at those moments.
Q. Can you talk about Ryan Collado?
COACH BREWSTER: He's gonna play right now. He'll play some at corner. Ryan is a utility player for us. He'll do a lot of different things. James Manuel is a big, physical safety. We really think he'll help us in this ballgame, particularly against the style of offense that we're gonna see. We want to get James on the field.
But Ryan is gonna play a significant role in the game, and he'll play extensively in the game.
Q. You said last week that you felt you could be 4-0, and then you have another close game on Saturday. Is that the mindset going forward?
COACH BREWSTER: Absolutely, and I think we are. Anybody who has watched us play can see that we're very close. There's just a fine line that determines winners and losers. What we haven't been able to do is -- you know, us define that line with the things that we do, specific moments in the game where our guys got to have the confidence to go make the play to win the game.
That's why this group of kids, you know, they're playing so hard and doing a lot of things well. What we've got to do is make those plays at those moments to win. I certainly believe that's gonna happen.
Q. Probably sounds like a broken record, but are you anymore optimistic about Royston this week?
COACH BREWSTER: That's a good question. This is a huge week for Kim. This is a huge week for him. Whether or not Kim is on the field or whether or not he's on the sideline, he's gonna be a big part of this game.
From an emotional standpoint, leadership standpoint, he's gonna be a part of leading the charge for us on Saturday. I certainly hope he'll be able to play in the game. I'm not prepared at this minute to say that he will or won't.
Q. A big factor in the game Saturday was their efficiency on third down.
COACH BREWSTER: Well, we've been really pretty good. If you look at the national statistics, we're doing a pretty solid job on third down. I think we're rated in the top 25, or close to that, on third down efficiency. So we just got to do a better job there, and particularly in a game like that. We were 3 out of 11 and they were 8 out of 11 on third downs. That's a huge difference in the game. We've just got to throw it and catch it better.
I thought our short yardage running game was much better against Northwestern. Did some things there to create some first downs. But that is a pivotal part of the game, Ed. That's where you really need to execute to be able to stay on the field is on third down.
Q. (Question regarding penalties.)
COACH BREWSTER: No, I don't -- we were ninth in the country in penalties, fewest amount of penalties. We had some against Northwestern. Obviously they had a lot more than we did.
But, you know, obviously that's a part of the game that we've really emphasized. That's why we've improved at it. We'll continue to -- I think it's huge this week against Wisconsin that we don't self-inflict any wounds on ourselves and we don't help them in any way with penalties or turnovers.
We need to play a very clean game against them.
Q. Do you know anymore about MarQueis?
COACH BREWSTER: Yeah. He's doing much better. He's got decreased pain in his foot, so I anticipate him being really ready to go this week.
Q. Is he still limited throughout the week?
COACH BREWSTER: You know, as of the meeting I had with Ed Lochrie, our trainer today, there's no limitations on MarQueis. He's ready to practice today. So I don't anticipate any limitations at this point. We'll see how the practice goes.
Q. After the Northwestern game, some of your players said, If we get the Ax, none of those other losses really matter. Do you look at it that way?
COACH BREWSTER: Obviously every game matters. Every game matters. But no game matters more this week, than this game. We all understand how meaningful this game is to the University of Minnesota to play for the Ax and play Wisconsin.
We're gonna put a great deal of effort into our preparation and making certain that we take a team over to Wisconsin that expects to win. That's what we want to do. We want to get back, you know, you win a game Saturday and you feel good about yourself. I think that that's, you know, obviously - telling you guys - it's a very positive thing. It would be a very positive thing for our players and coaches.
Because the bottom line is everybody is working extremely hard. Everybody is pouring everything they have into each and every game. When you don't get rewarded, that's disappointing. The reward is winning. We want to get our reward on Saturday.
Q. Can you talk about how close the team has been for the last three years and how much they do want that Ax?
COACH BREWSTER: I think you got a group of guys that will desperately want to go get that Ax. They totally understand what this game means. That's the fun part about this week. Daryl is sitting there and I know in his mine thinking about this game makes the hair on the back of his neck stand up. I think that's how it is for every guy that plays at the University of Minnesota. They understand.
We help them in certain ways to understand even more vividly, clearly, but it doesn't take much.
Q. You had a number of plays against Northwestern with three tight end the field. Talk about the development of your tight ends.
COACH BREWSTER: Really pleased with those guys. I think Eric Lair is really developing into a really good football player. Collin McGarry is really doing some good things. The unsung guy that we don't spend a lot of time talking about is Curtis Hughes.
Curtis is really, I think, potentially one of the better blocking tight ends in the Big 10. Doesn't catch many balls, he's kind of underneath the radar, but he does a great job blocking the line of scrimmage. That's his role, and he accepts it and really does it well.
So you're exactly right. Those three guys have done a really nice job. Our 22 package with two tight ends and two backs on the field has really been good in the running game, and in large part because of the way those tight ends are blocking. You see the things that Lair is doing. I really like what we're doing offensively. I think it's gonna do nothing but get better.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH BREWSTER: No, not necessarily. We may work on some silent count stuff just so our guys understand we may have to play without a snap count.
But other than that, defensively it's all about ball movement. Their crowd is gonna be loud and into the game. It's a great environment over there that you play in.
A couple years ago we played a great game over there at Camp Randall, and so our guys will know what they're going into. We'll help 'em as far as snap count is concerned. I think that's probably the only issue we'll face.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH BREWSTER: I think it's important. I wouldn't say it's the most important. You know, I think getting the running game off and going is very important. I think it really helps the play action pass. You saw our play action pass was really good against Northwestern because we were able to run the ball with some success.
So it's important for us. It's a great challenge for our defense to be able to slow down the three guys that they got running, to be able to match up against their front offensively. I would like to think it's gonna be a good challenge for them to be able to match up against us. We've run the ball pretty well, pretty successfully.
Both teams, I think, identify with each other that way.
Q. (Question regarding first Big 10 game.)
COACH BREWSTER: I think what you have to do is there's a road mentality that you take with you as a football team. To me, you embrace that mentality of kind of us against the world. Going into somebody else's environment, somebody else's backyard and having the confidence in yourself and preparation that you're gonna go play well and go win.
Our kids will feel exactly that way we go to Madison on Friday. To me, that's what college football is all about: This game, these rivalry games. You know, as a football player, you couldn't want anything more than to go into that environment and embrace it, accept the challenge, and go out and play well.
Q. A lot of people see these two schools as kind of alike in a lot of ways. They've had so much success in football the last decade, decade and a half. Do they have some advantage or something that maybe isn't obvious as to why they're so good?
COACH BREWSTER: I don't have any idea. I don't know what goes on at Wisconsin. I have no clue as far as that's concerned. They've done a nice; they've done a good job. Barry Alvarez started the program over there and got it going, and they've done a nice job.
Through the years, the University of Minnesota has done a lot of good things, too. I think we've won 59 games and they've won 52 in the series. Again, it's a great rivalry. Two great universities that stress education, that have great academics, great football programs.
Through the most recent years, Wisconsin has had more success, and it's my challenge to get Minnesota to win this football game. You know, you say it's rivalry, but we haven't won the game in the past three years. We've lost three games in a row by three points.
It's a tough, hard-fought game each and every single year. This year will be no different.
Q. Is there some sort of model for what you're trying to accomplish?
COACH BREWSTER: Winning is what we're trying to accomplish at Minnesota. Winning and winning the right way. Graduating our players, making sure that our guys are strong student-athletes and behaving well off the field and winning football games on the field.
So whether or not that's the model at Wisconsin or whether or not that's the model anywhere, that's the model which we want to do well with me as the head football coach here.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH BREWSTER: It will be exciting. But you know what? Again, all's I can think about is how meaningful it'll be to our players. To see the smiles on our players' faces, to see them succeed when they've poured so much effort into what we're trying to accomplish.
To see them get what I like to call their just reward, to me, would be more meaningful than anything in the world to me. I would love to sit back and watch our guys celebrate. That's how we're gonna plan this week and expect we know we know go over there.
Q. You go back at all and look at the end of last year's game?
COACH BREWSTER: Looked at 'em all. You know, again, and you've heard me say this more than once, those that refuse to study history are doomed to repeat it. I've looked very closely at all three games we've played against Wisconsin. The things that we need to do to improve. You study really hard every game they've played this season. The one thing we know is exactly who Wisconsin is. There's no trickery with who they are.
So, again, to me, it's a mentality that your football team has got to have when you play a game like this.
Q. Last year's game came down to the final drive. Had a chance similar to Northwestern, the game-winning drive.
COACH BREWSTER: It was that way the first year. These games are -- we know that they're gonna be won in the fourth quarter, won at the end the game. What you've got to do is prepare yourself to be so confident and so prepared for that moment that there's a relaxed feeling that you have that you're gonna succeed.
There's nothing but positive energy flowing, and knowing that, Hey, you know what? I'm prepared for this situation. I've practiced it; I'm ready. Look it in the eye and go succeed. That's the feeling that our players have to have to go win a football game like this one.
Q. Did you sense any confusion the last few plays of the Northwestern game?
COACH BREWSTER: I didn't sense any confusion. We know what we wanted to do and where we needed to get with the ball to kick it. We came up about ten yards short.
Q. The players, they try to get lined up?
COACH BREWSTER: Our two-minute offense, the execution of it so far this season, has been really good. In that situation right there, the execution of it really wasn't as good as we wanted it to be right there at the end of the game, or else we would have kicked the field goal with won it.
But as far as confusion or anything like that, I didn't see any of that.
Q. Can you talk about Mike Rallis.
COACH BREWSTER: He saw a doctor yesterday, and he's still trying to work through pain he's having in his abdomen. So he's a strong question mark at this point, at best.
Q. And Ryan Grant?
COACH BREWSTER: Ryan Grant is definitely gonna play. Aaron Hill will continue to play at that spot. Really thought that Ryan did some nice things last week against Northwestern. A very sharp, fundamental smart kid. Aaron Hill is the same way. We feel like we have two really confident guys to play that spot.
Q. What specifically is it about Ryan?
COACH BREWSTER: I thought he did a really nice job. You know, because against Northwestern it's not -- he's a Sam linebacker, so he was outside the box quite a bit. That's not necessarily the best thing that Ryan does, but he plays angles well and he's a very smart young guys and he's able to get his hands on the slot.
That's what we ask the Sam to do in a passing game versus a spread team. This week he's gonna be in the box much more. It's a different style football game totally. Ryan is a very tough-minded guy. Plays the run very well. So we think he's gonna do a nice job.
Q. Is Rallis' injury serious enough to sideline him for the rest of the season?
COACH BREWSTER: I don't think so. I don't think so. But that remains to be seen.
Q. You used the world "trickery"...
COACH BREWSTER: And that's not necessarily true. Paul does a nice job with deceptive plays. When you look at their base game plan, it's about being physical and running the football downhill, counter powers. It's about power. It's about zone play.
So that's is where I was going with that, just the style of play they have.
Q. Should we expect any more trickery from you guys?
COACH BREWSTER: (Smiling.) We'll have a few wrinkles for Wisconsin on Saturday. I thought Coach Horton did a really good job having some things for Northwestern, and the execution of those plays was very good.
So I think having a few deceptive plays has to be part of your game plan.
Q. Can you talk about Donnell?
COACH BREWSTER: Donnell got a little bit of a ham, a little bit of a calf. We think he's gonna be okay, though.
Q. Weber, with one more game he'll have the most starts of any quarterback right now. Talk about his season so far. Is there improvement you would like to see him make?
COACH BREWSTER: I think Adam has done a great job leading our football team. He's played much smarter. I think he's been really good in the pocket. He's been accurate. I think he's doing everything you want your starting quarterback to do.
I'm very pleased with him and the production we're getting out of him. I think he's gonna go down as -- he's getting ready to go through 10,000 yards passing; he's broken the touchdown pass -- I mean, he's done a lot of significant things statistically.
Now what Adam Weber wants to do more than anything is win a trophy great. Adam Weber will have a great opportunity on Saturday to do that.
Q. Talk about winning a trophy game for your players, for him, because he's the quarterback and he gets criticized more than any individual player.
COACH BREWSTER: I think you answered the question you just asked.
End of FastScripts