The Minnesota Gophers spent Christmas Day traveling out of a winter storm and into the sunny confines of Phoenix, Ariz., where they will begin Insight Bowl preparations.
The bowl itinerary starts right away for coaches and players. Upon arrival, Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster sat down for the Insight Bowl Arrival Press Conference at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
Brewster shared his thoughts about escaping the weather, his familiarity with the bowl game and questions his team is facing.
Brewster's Opening Statement : "Thank you John Junker and the Insight Bowl. We’re thrilled to be here. We just left about 18 inches of snow in Minneapolis. It’s kind of cold. The snow was coming down sideways, so we are awful anxious to be here and awful excited to be here. Again, the Insight Bowl people have made this game a great game. I think this is as good of a bowl site as there is in the country, as good as bowl venue. Again, we would like to thank the Insight Bowl people for inviting the Minnesota Golden Gophers. We couldn’t be more happy to be here."
About Minnesota’s familiarity of playing in the Insight Bowl : "I talked to our team about us being here before, so make sure we act like it. We’re here to win this football game. But we’re also here to enjoy the reward that it is to come to the Valley of the Sun this time of year and to leave Minnesota. We’re certainly going to enjoy the week. We’ve been here before. We understand the routine. We’re here to win a football game and that is what’s most important."
About losing WR Eric Decker to injury : "All we can do is go by our preparation. Our preparation has been outstanding for the game. We certainly miss a guy I feel like is college football’s best receiver. That’s Eric Decker. An outstanding captain. A great leader. Was up for the Campbell Award. Is one of the top academic and athletic football players in the country. We certainly miss him dearly. But it’s an opportunity for one of our young players to step up. We’ve got some really good young wide receivers. I really feel good about our preparation to this point. We’ve utilized the 10 practices we’ve had to this point to improve our football team. I’m very pleased with that."
About winning the Insight Bowl : "I’ve been involved with a lot of bowl games and I think the bowl game is a reward for your team. You can truly only get the reward if you win the football game. So, our main focus is to come here and enjoy the week and never lose site of the fact we are here to win a football game. We’re playing an outstanding opponent. Iowa State has had an excellent year. Paul Rhoads has done a real nice job in his first year. The proximity of Ames, Iowa and Minneapolis makes the game a natural rivalry. It’s going to be great for the fans and I really look forward to New Year’s Eve. But first, we have five practices along the way we have to continue to improve and work to get better."
The Gophers are attending the Insight Bowl for the second straight year and for the third time in the last four years. They will square off against the Iowa State Cyclones in Tempe on Dec. 31 at 6 p.m. EST.
On the surface, this year's Insight Bowl might not appear to be the most intriguing bowl game scheduled, but both teams are hungry to end the year with a winning season. That alone makes this game a little bit more interesting than most think.
An Insight Bowl win against Iowa State would certainly give a rebuilding Minnesota team a huge vote of confidence heading into next year.