Normally I don’t spend much time rehashing press conferences. After all, what do we really learn from these things. Temple’s a great team. Eastern Illinois will kick us in the teeth if we’re not careful. I don’t know anything about that. Blah, blah, blah. But, being that I couldn’t find much else to blog about, I thought I’d take a look at this week’s presser.
Q. Sean Lee was scheduled to test his knee yesterday. I was wondering, how did he do? Has he received medical clearance to play?
He hasn’t received medical clearance yet to play. But I watched him a little bit (on Monday). We told him take it easy. Ron Vanderlinden, who is his position coach, stuck him in a couple plays. Monday’s not tough day. We don’t do a lot of hitting or anything like that. But it’s a good day to break him in. And I think he came out of it okay. I’m anxious to see how he feels today when we go out there.
But it’s still not a done deal. I’m not sure whether he’s going to make it or not this Saturday. But, he’s working like a dog trying to, so we’ll see.
Minnesota has taken a variety of approaches in Fisch’s first season as it transitions to a pro-style offense. When the running game stalled early on, the Gophers kept throwing the ball to superstar wide receiver Eric Decker, who carried the offense at times. The Gophers opened Big Ten play with a balanced effort against Northwestern (186 pass yards, 166 rush yards). The run game stalled the next week against Wisconsin, so Adam Weber took to the air. Last week against Purdue, Weber attempted only nine passes as Minnesota racked up 207 rush yards in a win. It’s been a process for a unit still in transition.
Minnesota ranks last in the league in total offense (319.7 yards per game) and rushing offense (114.5 ypg) but owns a 4-2 record, 2-1 in Big Ten play. “We’ve shown that we can run the ball, and we’ve shown that we can throw the ball,” Fisch said. “The games have dictated what we’ve chosen to do.”
Q. From your point of view, is it harder to defend a passing game that primarily features one guy, like Minnesota does with Eric Decker, or a passing game that really spreads the ball around?
Well, you’ve always got to be aware of the superior wideouts such as Decker. Decker is a great football player. There’s a great chemistry with him and the quarterback (Adam Weber). And the quarterback has so much confidence in him, he’ll make throws to him that you ordinarily wouldn’t make. You’ve got to know where he is all the time. If you don’t, he’ll catch seven, eight, 10 passes for a lot of yards and a couple scores. That’s one thing.
But, it’s hard. When you say one receiver as opposed to three good receivers, offensive line, kind of pass protection, handle certain blitzes, quarterback, can he read certain things when he’s working with three receivers, it’s just not that simple to answer that question. I think each one of them, depending on the cast of characters, gives you problems. Decker gives you a problem. He’s not the only guy. You know, that No. 11 (Troy Stoudemire) is a good football player and return guy….No. 5 (MarQueis Gray), they’ve got a couple other guys that can go catch the football. Fall asleep, (they will) throw the ball to the tight end. In the clutch, it’s a one-man show maybe, but it’s not a one-man show the entire game. You can go overboard trying to cover Decker. They can hurt you other ways. So it’s a combination. When you’re dealing against a team that’s as well-coached offensively and defensively as Minnesota is, then you’ve got to be available to handle a lot of different things, and one of them obviously, top of the list, would be, don’t let Decker beat you.
Knowledge practiced yesterday. I’m anxious to see how he feels today. I think he’s going to be fine.
I think our secondary has been good, solid. Hasn’t come up with the football as often as I’d like to see them do it. They’ve made one or two mistakes. Two big passes on us, and that’s about it. The rest of it’s been pretty good. . . I think this week — I think we’ll know a lot more after this week. Although, as I said, I’m encouraged at where we are right now, particularly with the attitude of the practice yesterday.
Q. On the Timmons thing, what would your plans be to cover Decker? Will you try to rotate cornerbacks?
Why in God’s name would I answer that in any way? You sound like a Minnesota assistant coach. “What are you going to do with Decker?” You know, I don’t know. We may put four corners on him, all right, let everybody else run for touchdowns. I don’t know what we’re going to do yet. We’ve got to look at some things. It’s Tuesday. We’ve had one practice. We had a long discussion this morning as to some of the things they do.