Brewster ready to throw his young team into the deep end

Minnesota football head coach Tim Brewster hasnâÄôt crunched the numbers, but heâÄôs said several times since the season started that he believes the Gophers are the youngest team in college football. ItâÄôs a nearly impossible claim to prove, but Brewster certainly believes that he has an inexperienced team. According to this weekâÄôs depth chart, Minnesota will start three redshirt freshmen on the offensive line Saturday at Ohio State. When Montana State visited the Metrodome two weeks ago, true freshman Shady Salamon got the start at tailback. Last week, fellow freshman DeLeon Eskridge was in the backfield for the first drive against Florida Atlantic. And athough heâÄôs hardly played like it this year, quarterback Adam Weber, a redshirt sophomore, is only in his second year at the offensive helm. On the other side of the ball, the Gophers donâÄôt field quite as much youth, but the defense is just as new. Free safety Tramaine Brock, cornerback Traye Simmons, linebacker Simoni Lawrence and defensive end Cedric McKinley are all junior college transfers in their first year at Minnesota. Brock and Simmons are joined in the secondary by sophomore strong safety Kyle Theret and junior cornerback Marcus Sherels. Of the four, Sherels has been with the Gophers the longest, but he just moved to the defensive side of the ball this year after two years as a receiver. Now, MinnesotaâÄôs youth hasnâÄôt hindered the team at all, to this point, as the Gophers are 4-0 for the first time since 2005. But the young Gophers havenâÄôt played at Ohio Stadium yet âÄî or anywhere like it, for that matter. And visiting a Big Ten team is a far cry from playing in front of 23,184 at Bowling Green. In fact, quadruple that crowd and it would come close âÄî but not match âÄî the crowd Minnesota will experience Saturday against Ohio State. So how does someone like Lawrence, who said 3,000 was probably the largest crowd he saw when he played at Valley Forge Military Academy the past two years, prepare himself to play in front of more than 102,000? He works. âÄúWeâÄôre just going to keep preparing for them, weâÄôre going to know what they do and weâÄôre just going to play hard,âÄù Lawrence said. Brewster agreed. He said he may add some crowd noise during practice this week but he knows how to keep Buckeyes fans in check. âÄúA good way to do that is to have success,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúThat quiets the crowd.âÄù Having success against the No. 14 team in the country will be a task far more daunting than any the Gophers have faced this year, and Weber is making sure the youngsters are aware of that. âÄúI think thatâÄôs going to be a big emphasis this week in practice,âÄù he said, âÄúletting them understand that the Big Ten is a change compared to our first four games.âÄù Of course, thereâÄôs only so much emphasizing the coaches and veterans can do. Eventually, the newcomers have to just play. âÄúI think, pretty much, youâÄôve got to throw them in the deep end and say âÄòswim,âÄô âÄù Brewster said.