Optimism Reigns at Media Day
Monday, August 4, 2008

The coaching staff of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team is looking to the 2008 season with a sense of “realistic optimism,” according to head coach Tim Brewster.

Speaking before a sparse gathering of newsmen at the team’s annual Media Day ceremonies in the Bierman Building’s football sector, the second-year coach was more reserved than he was at last year’s function. Brewster was less a cheerleader and more of a philosopher this time around. The harsh reality of losing 11 of 12 games in his inaugural season coupled with the lack of media interest this year caused the coach to somewhat curb his enthusiasm (not once did he mention Gopher Nation or the Rose Bowl).

Brewster did rattle on at length about the “talented, gifted new kids” he recruited for this year’s squad, and went into great detail to explain preparations for this year’s season opener against Northern Illinois on August 30.

“The only thing,” he said, “that matters is that we go 1-0,” thus placing a great deal of emphasis on vanquishing a Mid America Conference team that had its head coach dismissed after going 2-10 last year, losing decisively to both Iowa and Wisconsin. Maybe this is where “realistic optimism” comes in.

“On this day across the country, every football coach is somewhat optimistic about his football team,” Brewster said. “The question really is whether or not that optimism is realistic.”

He indicated that he’s made sure the team has “taken the steps necessary to improve. Last spring, we had very physical spring practice. After spring practice, we really got into the strength and conditioning program this summer.”

The Gophers, according to their coach are “bigger, stronger and faster.” He pointed out that the majority of new recruits “come from the defensive side of the football. We’re really excited about the acquisition of players we have made to improve our team, particularly on (defense).”

Brewster also pointed out that quarterback Adam Weber “turned over the ball too much” in 2008, yet his “development as a quarterback has been excellent through the spring and summer. Adam is poised to have an outstanding sophomore season. We really think that he is going to be one of the better quarterbacks in the Big Ten. In my mind, the quarterback position is without question the most essential position on the field.”

The coach indicated that wide receiver Eric Decker “is going to be one of the best wide receivers in the country. He’s going to be a focal point in our offense.”

On the defensive side, Brewster praised linebacker Steve Davis: “I think he’s made tremendous strides as a football player and as a student of the game.”

He also took time to laud defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg: “Last year, he did not have the type of season that everyone would have liked, but he had a broken wrist. He wasn’t able to do some of the basic things as a defensive lineman that you have to be able to do to be successful. He’s in great shape and he’s put himself in a great position to have an outstanding senior season and go out with some success.”

Weber, Decker, Davis, and VanDeSteeg are the Gopher captains for 2008.

“I believe that with our leadership, with our strength and conditioning, and with our acquisition of talent, we’ve taken the steps necessary to be an improved football team.”

As for the new recruits, Brewster was, once again, optimistic. “I think of lot of those guys are going to help us win games this season. I couldn’t be more pleased with what they have done in the weight room. They have done the things to put themselves in the position where they can help us.

“We have signed 31 kids. You can only bring in 29. We believe that of the 31 kids we signed, 29 of them will end up being Golden Gophers.”

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