MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Toward the end of last week's loss, Tim Brewster consoled quarterback Adam Weber on the sideline while fans at TCF Bank Stadium called for the coach's firing in the background.
The image was fitting for the Gophers and the huge hole they're in, because Brewster and Weber have felt the wrath of frustrated followers more than anyone else in the program over these last four years.
In spite of the external skepticism, though, they haven't wavered in their insistence this team is better than it has looked.
"I understand the frustration of our fans, because my expectation was to be 4-0 at this point," Brewster said Tuesday, his voice rising. "I with all my heart believe we should and could be 4-0."
Instead, they're 1-3, needing a 5-3 finish in the Big Ten to even be eligible for a low-level bowl game invitation. The schedule includes five foes currently in the Top 25, but Brewster has posted signs all over the practice facility this week so his players remember that their conference record is 0-0.
"You have to buy into it 100 percent," Weber said. "I've always kind of had that mentality, but it's a matter of having the whole entire team believe that. That nonconference we kind of look at as the preseason. The Big Ten is really what it comes down to, and that's what we'll be ultimately judged on. So we can still go out and turn this thing around, right this ship, and go out and beat Northwestern."
The Wildcats (4-0) are the opponent for the homecoming game on Saturday. Most of the fans who show up will be bringing angst or apathy with their maroon and gold apparel.
"Just compound that about 50 times, OK? And that's me. That's our players," Brewster said. "Nobody hurts, nobody cares more than our coaches and our players. No fan has poured in what we've poured in into making this happen."
Weber acknowledged he feels bad for Brewster.
"He's always had my back, and I do appreciate that," Weber said.
He fondly recalled Brewster's hang-in-there message to him last week in a loss to Northern Illinois.
"I'm amazed by that, because you hear people chanting things in the stands but even at that moment he came over and took the time to make sure that I'm OK," Weber said.
The quarterback, like the coach, was just as insistent the Gophers could be unbeaten.
"There's too much leadership and character on this team to let some bumps in the road throw us off. We worked too hard in the offseason," Weber said.
Brewster blamed correctible mistakes and inexperience on defense for the bad start. Statistically, the only numbers that stand out are the three losses. Including a competitive effort against No. 18 Southern Cal, the Gophers are so far better than their opponents in most categories, including total yardage and turnovers.
So perhaps that's the best explanation for why Brewster sternly dismissed a question about whether he worries about his job being in jeopardy.
"That's ludicrous for me," he said. "I'm worried about our players."