Minnesota aims to avoid bye week blues

October, 21, 2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Minnesota coach Tim Brewster thinks he has discovered the magic formula for approaching bye weeks, and he doesn't want to give it away.

Brewster declined to reveal the specifics of Minnesota's schedule during the off week when asked about it on today's Big Ten coaches' teleconference. The second-year coach did say he wanted players to remain "healthy and fresh" and focus on their academic work.

"I really liked our schedule last week," Brewster said. "Our kids came back Sunday night re-energized and recharged. That's the key to a long season."

Minnesota will find out Saturday at Purdue if Brewster's approach works. So far, no one else's has.

Five Big Ten teams have had true bye weeks this season, and only one, Michigan, has followed with a victory (note: Purdue's "bye" came in Week 1 and the Boilers opened their season with a win against Northern Colorado). Because Michigan was playing another team (Wisconsin) coming off a bye, someone had to win.

Recapping the Big Ten bye week blues:

  • Indiana fell to Ball State in Week 3 after a 2-0 start.
  • Illinois lost at Penn State in Week 5 after a 2-1 start.
  • Wisconsin lost to Michigan in Week 5 after a 3-0 start.
  • Northwestern lost to Michigan State in Week 7 after a 5-0 start.
"Everybody's searching for that magical schedule and what do you do in the bye week?" Brewster said. "I've got great belief in our schedule and what you do. Our kids came back energized and ready to work. It's what your belief is."
Big Ten coaches lobbied for a bye week to allow their players a chance to recuperate physically and mentally during the season. Brewster called Minnesota a "banged-up team" following its win at Illinois, and the injury list included quarterback Adam Weber (knee), wide receiver Eric Decker (shoulder) and cornerback Marcus Sherels (shoulder).

Every Gophers player participated in practice Monday.

Though Minnesota is clearly the more confident team entering Saturday's matchup, Brewster expects Purdue to show some fight.

"There's a lot of emotion on Purdue's side, playing for Joe Tiller, his last season, the Homecoming game," Brewster said. "I know that Purdue football team wants to send Joe Tiller out the right way with a bowl game. It's going to be a tremendous challenge."



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