Senior defensive tackle Brandon Kirksey has been through some tough times in his four years with the Gopher Football program.
Kirksey was part of a 3-9 season in 2010, where he saw his head coach dismissed mid-season. He was even suspended from the team for a week after last year's 52-10 loss to Ohio State. But it sounds as though Kirksey has learned from those experiences and is one of the guys the Gophers can count on, even though times have been tough once again this season.
"It's a heavy burden," Kirksey said. "Last year, we didn't do so good. I had to carry that burden. This year, we're not doing so good, so it's still a burden. But it's a learning experience. You try to have a short-term memory. You just get over the hump and continue to work hard."
Kirksey has clearly been listening to head coach Jerry Kill when he talks about his philosophies in regard to adversity.
"You always find out who you have on your side in adverse environments," Kirksey said. "When things are bad you find out who your real soldiers are. That's even in life. Your family and friends ... when things are going bad in life, you find out who your real family and friends are. That's what we're dealing with now."
Coach Kill stated Tuesday that he's looking for a "fight-back mentality." It sounded like he feels Kirksey is one of the guys giving him that. Kirksey reiterated that when he talked about how he is dealing with things so far this season.
"I just know there's light on the other side," Kirksey said. "So I just continue to fight, continue to fight. I know a lot of guys look up to me. So I choose to hide the bad that I feel about it and look at it as optimistic about the good things that can happen. Continue to stress to them that if we keep working, we can beat a team that we want to beat. It's just not getting yourself down, not beating yourself up. Just have that short-term memory and continue to play and practice."
Senior offensive lineman Chris Bunders agreed with that mentality.
"Hopefully if we just stay on the course and keep going, we'll be fine," Bunders said.