JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There was some uncertainty about coach Tim Brewster when he arrived on the Mississippi State University campus.
As the Bulldogs come to the end of the 2012-13 football season, Brewster's name sticks out.
"When he came, he didn't know the playbook," MSU senior wide receiver Chris Smith said. "He knows every route and he would go through each and every route. He will clear everything up for us and make it look so easy. He has been a great coach."
Brewster inherited a good amount of talent when he was hired as the MSU wide receiver coach after the departure of Angelo Mirando. It has been the simple things the Bulldog receivers have gotten better at. Breaking out of routes seems like an easy task, but there is a right way to do it.
"He emphasizes that very hard through individual drills," Smith said. "We work on a lot of that. In the past, we haven't been doing that. It has been a great thing. I'm glad he came along."
For Brewster, it has been an up and down coaching career. He has coached in the NFL and at the college level. His only head-coaching job came at Minnesota, but he was fired after two-and-a-half seasons.
The small things and small details is what Brewster pays attention to.
"To me, the fundamental aspects of wide receiver play are extremely important," Brewster said. "I have a saying 'no detail is to small to be coached.' I pride myself on being a detailed guy and being a detailed coach. Over time, I think that has proven to be successful. This group is so fortunate because it's a senior laden group. I always said this 'the best teachers are players.' Watching Chris Smith come out of a break the right way really helps Freddie Brown. This group has really done a nice job."
Brewster has led a wide receiver group that has had a successful season. MSU is led by seniors Smith, Chad Bumphis and Arceto Clark.
The Bulldogs (8-4) plays No. 21 (Associated Press) Northwestern (9-3) Tuesday in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. and can be seen on ESPN2.
Northwestern defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz brings in an experienced pass rush. The Wildcats have 25 sacks for 162 yards of loss.
"They are so fundamentally sound," Brewster said of Northwestern's defense. "I have tremendous appreciation for Mike Hankwitz. (He is a) long time veteran (and) experienced coach. His guys line up properly, they are excellent tacklers and they are going to be in the right place. They don't give up a whole lot of explosive plays. You don't get behind them a whole lot. I think the patience in the passing game is going to be critical for us."
Brewster has gotten a big boost from Bumphis this season. Bumphis has hauled in 55 catches for 904 yards. He has also caught 12 touchdowns.
"Chad is an outstanding football player," Brewster said. "He is one of the smartest football players I have ever been around. He understands details, he understands concepts, not only at his position, but he understands all the positions. He understands protections. Chad has talked to me about when he is done playing that he is interested in coaching. He will be a heck of a coach at some point and some day. He has been a great leader for our group."
Northwestern is looking for its first bowl win in a while and is looking to score one for the Big Ten. Brewster played his college football at Illinois and was the head coach of Minnesota. His Big Ten connections run deep.
"I've been in the Big Ten a long time," Brewster said. "I played in the Big Ten and I coached in the Big Ten for a lot of different years. The SEC without question is the best football conference in the country. Everybody, when they get an opportunity to play against the best, they are going to step their game up. We are going to get an absolute fastball from Northwestern. They haven't won a bowl game in a long time. Pat (Fitzgerald) does a good job of motivating his football team. We are going to get their absolute best shot on Tuesday. We have to understand that."
For Brewster, the opportunity at MSU is something he has loved. The environment he has been in is one he and his family have enjoyed.
"The greatest thing to me is just coming to Starkville, Mississippi," Brewster said. "The people have been so awesome to me and my wife. They have welcomed us very, very quickly. This football team welcomed me."
Bulldog head coach Dan Mullen knew what he was getting when he hired Brewster. Brewster has seen the type of coach and leader Mullen can be during his time in Starkville.
"One thing I really learned in a short period of time is, it's all about leadership, head-coaching leadership," Brewster said. "Dan Mullen has just done an outstanding job here. My appreciation and respect for him has grown each day since I've been here. I've sat in that chair and I understand how challenging that chair is."