Coming off his first victory as the head football coach at Minnesota, Jerry Kill was asked what he thought of where the Gopher program is during Tuesday's weekly press conference.
If people haven't yet learned that Coach Kill isn't prone to hiding his thoughts or feelings, his answer was yet another not-so-subtle reminder that this head coach tells it like it is. Coach Kill is almost honest to a fault and he isn't going to sugar-coat anything for anyone.
With that setup, you're probably expecting a less-than-rosy answer, right? If so, the first part of his answer might surprise you a bit.
"To be honest with you, in some aspects, it's gone better (than expected)," Kill said to the assembled media horde.
But after that initially positive report, Kill opened up a vein about where his program is as they head into the fourth game of his head coaching tenure. Kill has a reputation as a coach who can turn dormant programs around. He intends to do that with the Gophers. But -- as he has preached since the day he was introduced as the program's new mentor - it will take time and patience.
"It ain't different anywhere else I've been," Kill said of his previous four head coaching stops. "We haven't been here long enough to get them to understand what it is. I mean, give me a break ... you'd like to think you'd understand what leverage is, but you know what ... they don't know. So we have got to teach them."
Kill then referenced a story he talked about back at the beginning of training camp. He spoke of legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden teaching his team the proper way to pull up their socks and tie their shoes. Something as simple and mundane as pulling up your socks and tying your shoes properly were the building blocks to Wooden's program. Kill then also referenced another legendary basketball coach, who visited him in his office earlier this week.
"And as Coach Knight said (Monday), shoot, we don't do any of that (teaching) any more," Kill said. "We just line them up and put them in these X's and O's and think we out-coach everybody. That's a bunch of crap.
"We have got to learn the little things before we get the big things," Kill continued. "it's going to take us a whole year to do that. We have to educate our players, and teach them better."
One area Kill is trying to educate his team about is playing hard and executing on each and every snap of the ball. He credited this week's opponent - North Dakota State - with having the ability to do just that.
"Where we are at in our program, there is no room for error, in any game we play, any game," Kill said. "We can play and we can win games. But there is no room for error. They have got to bring their A Game every week. That's why I do have respect for North Dakota State. They don't take no damn plays off. That's why they win. If we learn not to take any damn plays off, then we wouldn't have lost to New Mexico State. So it's a deal of getting the mentality built into a group of young people that, hey, you are not super-human. You need to learn how to play hard. That's it."
North Dakota State and Minnesota will see just who plays harder and who takes fewer plays off Saturday night at TCF Bank Stadium. Kickoff for the Gopher-Bison clash is set for 6:07 p.m. CT.