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UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 12, 2010
COACH BREWSTER: As I said after the game Saturday at Wisconsin, I thought that it was a tale of two halves. Certainly, in the first half, we did some things that gave us a chance to be in the football game at halftime; and in the second half, we didn't do the things necessary didn't play, and didn't finish a 60-minute football game. And that's exactly why we got the end result we got.
We didn't do the things in the second half that we did in the first half, and that we knew we needed to do to be in the game. So, obviously, a very disappointing result for us on Saturday.
Long bus ride home from Madison with a great chance to reflect as a football team and think about the things that we need to do in the second half of the season to be a winning football team.
I think that's exactly what our team did. That's what we did as a coaching staff. We had a great opportunity on the bus ride home to spend a lot of time together and help ourselves through a tough loss like that.
Did we anticipate in any way, shape or form being 1-5 at this point? Absolutely not. We felt like we have more talent on our football team than a 1 and 5 football team is right now. But your record is indicative of who you are. It is who you are.
The exciting thing about where we're at is we've got six games left in this season. We're now in the second half of the season, and we've got a great opportunity to do something about it. Our anticipation, our expectations for the second half of the season is for a lot of young guys that we've had playing for us on the defensive side, they're no longer young guys. Young guys on the offensive side, wherever it may be, there are no excuses. Needn't be a whole lot of explanations.
It's time for us to step up and go play winning football. Go play winning football for 60 minutes. Finish football games. We've had plenty of our share of close football games. Close is not good enough. Winning is what I'm paid to do. Winning is what we're here to do, and that's exactly what we anticipate doing in the second half of this football season.
Again, our goal was to play 13 games at the beginning of the season. It still is our goal. Obviously we've got an uphill battle to get to that goal. But, again, that's very exciting for us as a football team to take on that challenge, to accept that challenge and down the stretch go play winning football.
It all starts on Saturday at Purdue. Again, that's going to be a good challenge for our football team. They're coming off an exciting win over Northwestern at Northwestern. But we've had success the past two years against Purdue down there and then here last year.
Our kids this week will do a great job with our preparation, and we'll take a football team that's confident and prepared to go win down in west Lafayette on Saturday.
In talking about Purdue's football team, Rob Henry stepped in at quarterback as a red shirt freshman, taking over for Robert Marve who was a senior -- or not a senior, was a junior. Had two years of eligibility left, tore his ACL.
Tough loss for them losing Robert Marve. But Henry stepped in the other night against Northwestern and really did a nice job.
They've changed their offense somewhat. Going for more of I would like to say a two-back, a lot of pro-style ingredients in their offense. Under Henry, they're much more spread. I think that there's a number of design quarterback runs for Henry in the offense.
Purdue's lost a couple of very productive players over the course of the season. They've lost a really good wide receiver, lost a good runner. Obviously, we've already talked about them losing a really good quarterback. So they did a really nice job the other night of going to Northwestern and winning a football game.
Ryan Kerrigan, I think, is one of the best defensive players in the Big Ten. Very similar to J.J. Watt who we saw last week. Just a relentless pass rusher. Has length, has size, strength.
The biggest thing I really admire about Ryan is his motor. He has a motor that runs all day long. He plays extremely hard, so we're going to have to do a really good job of accounting for him.
They do a nice job with their zone blitz package, multiple zone blitzes. We'll have to be prepared to see some of those things. They also did a nice job in coverage, particularly versus Northwestern. So we've got our work cut out for us this week.
You lose a tough ballgame. You lose a couple ballgames like we have in a row, and the thing you want to do is get back out on the field. I wish we could have practiced when we got off the bus when got back Saturday night. If I was allowed to practice them, I probably would have. But, unfortunately, I couldn't. So we've got to wait until today to start the process.
We started Sunday, really, with the process of preparing for Purdue. But we start the actual process of practice today.
Again, like I said, we're in the second half of the season now, and our football team's going to be prepared to go win in the second half of the season.
Depth chart-wise, everybody's seen the depth chart. There's no real changes there from an injury standpoint. We're really in pretty good shape considering where we're at in the season. So we'll move forward with this group. Questions?
Q. Obviously Purdue's faced some adversity with those injuries and they were able to overcome that and win a great game yesterday. What kind of things do you think that they did to be able to overcome that adversity?
COACH BREWSTER: You just, whatever breaks there are, you get a break your way. I think this: I think good football teams, breaks come your way. The better football team you are, the better you're playing, it seems like the more breaks that you get.
So I give Purdue a great deal of credit for playing the way they played the other night against Northwestern. They played well. We've played extremely hard as a football team all year long. We played extremely hard. We haven't been rewarded for that effort to this point.
My message, again, to our team is you wake up every day and you bring attitude, you bring effort. You bring that to the plate each and every day. And if you continue to do that, if you do that, you will get your just reward at some point.
We want that point to be Saturday against Purdue. We'll see, and we'll play that way, and we'll see how it plays out.
Q. Troy back in, he need a couple weeks to get ready?
COACH BREWSTER: I think Troy's real close to being ready to help us. He's a talented, athletic football player. With as many 8 and 9-man looks as we're showing people defensively, you've got to be able to play some man coverage. And Troy can play man coverage. He's adept, he's good at it. He's very athletic. So he's going to get an opportunity to get out there this week and help us at corner.
Q. And motivation to have Kyle back at strong safety?
COACH BREWSTER: Kyle and Ryan Collado are both veteran experienced guys. James Manuel's going to continue to play in there. And just having that experience in the middle of the field. Those two guys are really rather interchangeable.
Kyle is a very physical player. When you put him in the box, he's an excellent tackler, so I think he's suited to play either spot. But when you put him in a position to be a tackler, that's beneficial.
Q. Obviously, they're both experienced, but is it a struggle at all when they move?
COACH BREWSTER: No, I don't think so at all. When you're talking about seniors, guys that are veteran, experienced guys. You're not asking totally different things. Because at different points in the game the free safety can become the strong safety. It's a matter of rotation. It's a matter of formation.
What you're seeing offensively as to who is down in the box. So those two positions are really almost totally interchangeable.
Q. You said a couple weeks ago that Troy had to gain your trust back. Has he done that in the last couple weeks?
COACH BREWSTER: He really has. There are different points in young people's lives when they make poor decisions. I think the really promising thing about those are when a kid thinks about the decision he made, understanding there are consequences, and is truly remorseful. And that's what Troy has been.
He's worked really hard at being a good teammate. You know, being a positive leader on our team. He's a guy who can affect the game, who can change the game. He commands leadership by how he plays the game. But I want him also to command leadership in the locker room and away from the game with the other players, and I think he's really done a good job with that.
Q. The fact that you moved him over, you said that you had confidence in your receiving corps. You showed some things that in Wisconsin gave. Can you talk about the development of that side?
COACH BREWSTER: Of the receivers? Yeah, I think those guys have done a good job. I think MarQueis has done a good job. Da'Jon McKnight, Bryant Allen is really, I think, coming into his own as a slot receiver. Really understanding zone concepts and man concepts and reacting accordingly. Had a big play in the middle of the field against Wisconsin.
So I really think that those guys -- you know, Victor Keise is a young kid that has a chance to help us as we move forward. He's really worked extremely hard.
With the production that we're getting out of the tight end position, particularly Eric Lair in the passing game, our numbers are really, really pretty good. When you look at our numbers statistically, offensively in the nation and in the Big Ten, we're doing a pretty solid job there with the passing game.
I think it all starts -- you know, Adam Weber's thrown 12 touchdowns four interceptions. You know, his pass efficiency has been excellent.
Again, also, where it really starts is up front. We're not giving up sacks. I think that is, again, where it all starts when you talk about the passing game is the protection that the quarterbacks get.
Q. Who do you think has been the biggest improvement there in pass protection?
COACH BREWSTER: Again, Tim Davis, you know, the continuity we had with Coach Davis and our kids. That offensive line hasn't changed a lick in two years. I think the continuity with that group is really essential in the success that we've had with those guys.
Q. You said he's been efficient, especially from a touchdown interception standpoint. But Adam, after Wisconsin, said he needs to throw more catchable balls.
COACH BREWSTER: You know what, isn't it great that the player is his own worst critic? Isn't that awesome about a young kid who demands so much of himself? He demands perfection from himself. When he isn't perfect, he's really hard on himself.
Sure, he missed some throws in the game that he'd like to have back. But I'm going to tell you what, he's done a great job leading our football team. He's made some great throws. I he is 100% improved this year over last year, and I think it's very evident.
Q. Do you think it's more mental? In what way has he improved?
COACH BREWSTER: I think in every way. I think in every way that you look at him. You look at his stats, you look at his numbers, you look at how he handles himself on the field in pressure situations. I think he's just done a really nice job.
Q. Will Mike Rallis be helping this Saturday?
COACH BREWSTER: I hope so. I really hope so. He's going to practice today, and unless he has a major setback, we anticipate having him. How many snaps he can actually get Saturday remains to be seen. But we anticipate him being able to be on the field, and that will be really positive for our defense.
Q. You said it was a huge week for Kim. Did he progress the way you thought he would?
COACH BREWSTER: No, he didn't. It's just like I said, it's a frustrating, tough process for Kim. And each and every day he's out there working, pushing, trying to get back on the field. But to be perfectly honest, the answer to that question would be no.
Q. You mentioned the lower number of sacks allowed. Purdue, I think leads the Big Ten in sacks. Are you kind of eager to see how you'll do?
COACH BREWSTER: Yeah, how we'll match up. Certainly with Kerrigan. They've got a Bruce Gaston, a young inside kid, the true freshman on the inside has done a nice job. Like I said, they're a twist team. A lot of ET's, TE's with the defensive front, adding a linebacker on zone dogs. So they do a nice job with their pressure package. That's something we're going to work very hard on this week.
But our guys, like I said, we've faced that style of defense already this season. Our guys have done a nice job holding up. I think it's critical that we do a good job with Kerrigan.
Q. Who will be primarily responsible for guarding him?
COACH BREWSTER: Well, both tackles will get opportunities. Then there's a lot of different things that you can do to offset a good pass-rusher.
I remember I was coaching in the National Football League, and we faced Dwight Freeney. You have to have a plan for how you are going to -- on every single play, you had to have a plan in the passing game of how you're going to protect against him.
I don't want to say exactly how, you know, but we're going to have a plan for Kerrigan because I think he's that disruptive. I think the kid is really a great football player.
Like I said earlier, I admire the heck out of how he plays the game. He's not overly gifted, blessed, all that stuff. I think the best word to describe Ryan is he's relentless. Just absolutely relentless.
COACH BREWSTER: Yeah, there are similar qualities there, similar to last week. J.J.'s a little longer, but same type of guy.
And I thought we did a pretty good job last week against Watt for the most part . He had some tackles. I think he had a sack, but I thought for the most part our guys did a good job holding up against him.
Q. Is that just the mentality that guys like that have that you can't teach? Some of these younger defensive ends that you have?
COACH BREWSTER: Absolutely. I think the hunger for the game, and particularly the hunger to be relentless and go win is accumulated over time. You come in as a freshman, you know, you're just putting your foot on the field is fun, it's exciting. Then once you get on the field you have some success, and as a sophomore and a junior, it becomes all about winning. The only thing that matters is winning.
As a freshman you'd love to be able to call home and tell mom and dad I played in the game. As a sophomore, junior and senior, it becomes so much more important to call mom and dad and say we won today. That's kind of how I think kids develop as they play the game and maturity is a big part of that.
Q. Is there any reason David wasn't in there kicking at the end of the game?
COACH BREWSTER: Yeah, Ellestad had a little bit of a hip flexor. A kicker's issue, and so that's why Schwerman went in, and David did a good job, I think.
Q. Will he be out this week?
COACH BREWSTER: We'll see. I'm not prepared right yet. Today he's still a little sore. But David Schwerman would be the guy if Eric Ellestad is not available.
Q. Then with the running backs, are you looking for anything this week that would maybe put DeLeon at the one spot?
COACH BREWSTER: Hopefully all three guys will make an impact on the game and we'll just let the situation play itself out. DeLeon Eskridge has been very consistent the past couple weeks. He's done a nice job, good, hard, physical runs.
And Duane Bennett's going to continue to get his opportunities. Little different back, little different pitch with each of those kids.
Then I think in his own way, I think Donnell Kirkwood brings some nice things to the plate as well.
Q. Are you concerned at all with MarQueis only having four catches and 22 yards in the past couple of games in the Big Ten?
COACH BREWSTER: Not necessarily. We're going to make sure that MarQueis gets his opportunities. We're going to give him opportunities in each game. I think every time he goes out there as a wide receiver, he gains more confidence and does more things.
Now, he's also understanding that people game plan against him. We're not in the backyard playing pick-up. I'm going to run down to the post and turn in. There is a really refined aspect of what he's got to do at the position, and I think he's learning well.
His patience versus rolled coverage, safety over the top, bracket, in and out type of coverage to try to limit him, he's understanding that you've got to have patience against that type of coverage when you get your opportunities you take advantage of them.
Q. His injury has nothing to do with it?
COACH BREWSTER: No, as a matter of fact Ed said today that he's really doing well.
Q. You mentioned it after the game, the issues on third down with both stopping them and converting yourself. Is that execution or are the guys beginning to feel some pressure?
COACH BREWSTER: Well, when you look at it, you said 3 of 13. It really wasn't 3 of 13. It was 6 of 17, right? Because we converted three or four fourth downs.
So you've got to understand our mindset. When we're on the plus side and we're in plus territory, okay, we like to get to the 25-yard line to be able to kick field goals. 42-yard field goals are about the max of where we're at right now.
So we go into a lot of those situations once we cross the 50 in knowing we're in two-down territory on third down. So you're not always trying to get all of it on third down. You want to leave a manageable fourth down.
So our mindset's a little bit different right there. So 6 of 17 is not acceptable either. So we've got to do a better job there. Guys got to make plays on third down, and particularly on defense. We've got to fight and scratch like crazy to get off the field on third down. That's just the name of the game.
Q. What skills make a good kick returner as opposed to a tailback? What do you look for?
COACH BREWSTER: I think the biggest attribute you look for in a kickoff returner is a sudden accelerator. The guy that can get to top-end speed very quickly. You notice some guys as they run, they're build-up guys. The great kickoff returners are guys that accelerate very quickly, and have a sense of strength about them, because you're going to have to run through a few arms. You're going to have to break a tackle or two as you get up into the seam.
So I think the number one thing is the ability to catch the ball and accelerate quickly. Go from 0 to 60 very quickly. I think that's the number one thing you've got to have. Then you've also got to have a center of gravity, balance, and strength to be able to break a tackle and finish a run.
I think Troy's getting ready to break the all time Big Ten record for kickoff returns. That's really exciting. And he is a guy that goes from 0 to 60 very quickly. What we've got to get Troy to do is we've got to get him to finish. I think he leads the nation in kickoff returns to the 50. I'd like to see a few of them finish in the end zone.
Q. That just a chance that he's never broken one all the way?
COACH BREWSTER: Yeah, I just think, again, you get in enough of those opportunities and it's really hard to do. I think the Tampa Bay Bucs went 30 years without returning a kick for a touchdown. It seems like special teams-wise, there is more of that going on this season. There are more punt returns for touchdowns.
Wisconsin had given up four or five returns for touchdowns prior to, and I don't know whether or not, it just seems like this season we're seeing more of that.
Q. At the end of the Wisconsin game, obviously, two-point conversion. Do you just leave that behind as last week or is that motivation at all going into this week?
COACH BREWSTER: No, I think we've left that behind. After the football game I had a point to make, and I think that my point was very well taken. From that point on, it's a non-issue.
Q. Have you heard from other coaches reactions to the attention that that got?
COACH BREWSTER: Yes.
Q. What is the point of view?
COACH BREWSTER: I don't have to say whether or not -- I've heard from a number of coaches.
End of FastScripts