A sampling of what was heard at yesterday’s weekly press luncheon:
LINEBACKER D.J. HOLT:
(On Minnesota receiver Eric Decker): From what I’ve seen, he’s a pretty good receiver. They throw the ball to him 80 percent of the time. It’s not anything that we can’t handle. We just have to come out and jump on them fast and see where it takes us.
(How is Minnesota’s running game?): They’re a good running team, but if you get them out of the run, they’re going to start throwing the ball. They like to run behind that big line they have. They have a lot of faith in their O-line.
(On Cal’s problems on the road): We kind of got off track going away. We weren’t really as focused. We’re going to be more ready this time. It’s a hostile environment so you can’t come out lackadaisical. You have to come out like it’s a home game, treat it like a home game.
(On his role on the road now that he’s a starter): I have to be more vocal out there on the field. First away game, I have to get the jitters out. We should be fine. We just have to jump on them fast.
(On fatigue playing a role in last year’s Maryland loss): That was definitely a big factor. When we played Maryland last year, I was tired out there, kind of sluggish. They jumped on us fast, and we weren’t ready until the fourth quarter. It was too late to come back. It felt like I didn’t have that much sleep.
(On manning the middle with Mychal Kendricks): We have a lot to prove. A lot of people say we’re young. We have some big shoes to fill. I think we’re doing fine. It’s a dream come true. It still hasn’t hit me yet that we’re starters and we’re playing in the middle together. We’re coming along.
(On the differences in increased playing time): Definitely got to get more treatment. I’m really sore after the games. Everything else I saw last year, for the most part. I just didn’t see it as many times. Now I see it over and over and over.
LINEBACKER EDDIE YOUNG:
(More equipped to win on the road this year because of experience?): I feel like we’re going to be a lot better on the road this year because we’ve made an extra point this week. We know we did badly on the road last year and we made an extra effort to really get it across to the players how important it is to be a mentally tough team. That’s winning on the road, being mentally tough. We have stuff around the locker room that we have to be mentally tough and be ready for a real tough week of practice.
(Fatigue a factor last year against Maryland?): It quite possibly could have been but we don’t really think about that stuff. We are going out a day early this year, to get acclimated to when we’re going to play. I can’t say it hurt us or helped us last year.
(Biggest challenge of an early start time?): Just getting up and going. At the hotel, you don’t have time to hang around and watch the other games and just relax and get your body ready. Right when you hit the floor, it’s time to go. That’s a disadvantage of an early game. But it’s not that bad.
(Importance of proving you can win on the road): Being able to win on the road is very important to us. For us to be the type of team we want to be, we have to win on the road. We didn’t do that last year.
(On Minnesota’s running game): Their guys can get it done. They’re north and south kind of runners, one cut and make you miss kind of guys. From what I’ve watched so far, it’s a little more pass first and then run. But the coaches say they want to establish the run more, so we have to be ready for that as well.
NOSE TACKLE DERRICK HILL:
(Will experience help play on the road?): I think that experience itself is just going to help us drastically on the road when we get to those situations. Normally when we’re at home we have the fans to stand behind us. I think that now, that experience is going to help us on the road — we’re not going to be as mentally weak as we’ve been in the past. We’ll be much more stronger, being able to adapt and adjust to all those hard things.
(Hardest thing about winning on the road?): I think it’s more being mentally strong on the road. I know that when you’re at home, you have the opportunity to look behind you, see your crowd and fans right there, but also know that when you’re away you don’t have that luxury. So just having that mental strength and that ability to stay strong and stay with one another is the biggest issue on the road. Also that true leadership comes up when you’re on the road more than it does when you’re at home.
(On Minnesota’s offensive line): They’re a great O-line. Very big guys. They’re going to bring a lot of physicalness to this game. It’s going to be a big battle up front. I’m looking forward to this big battle we’re going to have.
(Did you feel rushed for last year’s Maryland game?): I got up earlier that morning of the game just to try to make my body wake up sooner, but of course we were rushed. Even though I got up earlier it still was like 4:30 our time. Even though I got up earlier, normally we’d be asleep right there.
(Do you need to prove you can win on the road to be a championship-caliber team?): You always gotta be good on the road. The road itself, that’s what makes good teams great. You have to be able to play in not just your environment but hostile environments and make plays and win games in those environments. One of the best feelings for a player is to go to an opposing crowd and have the crowd quiet cause your team is dominating.
It’s always good for us to go out and battle and compete and make sure at the end of the day we come out with a w. And lately that hasn’t been the case but with this year a lot of maturity and leadership, we hope that that’s something we can get back to.
(Say anything to the younger players about playing on the road?): I always tell them, first things first, don’t go on the road and be all scared, nervous and uptight. Go on the road and relax have fun. I always tell everybody this: when you’re out here on the football field it’s not about sitting here and going at it as a business aspect. Go out and have fun.
If you’re having fun you don’t have to worry about the environment, all those other types of things. I always tell them make sure you’re having fun and the rest of it will play its part.