Head coach Jerry Kill appreciates a challenge. He's told me (and others) in the past that he believes the good Lord put him on earth to tackle difficult tasks like some of the programs he's turned around in the past. We all know some of the personal challenges he's overcome as well.
Jerry Kill says he doesn't shy away from a challenge.
The Gophers own a 1-4 overall record and are coming off 58-0 loss to Michigan that was one of the worst losses in the history of the program. As Kill has said repeatedly since he took over back in December, there is a culture that needs to be changed within the Minnesota Football program.
Make no mistake, that's a challenge, according to Kill.
"A lot of people go, "Coach, are you negative? Are you down?" No," Kill said during his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon. "It's a challenge. It's a great challenge. I came in Sunday and we went to work. Hey, this is what we've got to do, man. Here it is. It's the same thing every place I've ever been. It's a tough job for tough people and tough times.
"I'm trying to change a mentality that's been embedded a little bit, and that's not easy to do," Kill added. "Shoot, we're working at it. I can tell you that."
All Coach Kill is looking for out his team are young men who are going to play hard. In fact he met with his staff recently and they discussed virtually every player on the roster in an effort to find the ones who are going to give the kind of effort Kill expects.
"I went through each kid and said first of all, we need to make sure we're putting the right people out there," Kill said of that meeting. "Second of all, does this guy play hard? Is football important to him? How does he feel? I didn't even ask them if they were scholarship players or red-shirt players or what year they were. I just want to know who is giving us effort, who wants to play hard, and that's who we're going to play."
That group will be the team of Gophers Coach Kill takes with him to West Lafayette, Ind. this weekend for Minnesota's Big Ten Conference matchup with Purdue.
"We played Purdue a couple years ago where I was before," Kill said. "So we've got a good idea (what to expect from the Boilermakers). Again, right now, it wouldn't matter who we were playing. I'm more concerned about us than I am any of that.
"Right now we've got to worry about our kids mentally thinking that we've got to do what we need to do to get better," Kill added. "I think that is the biggest challenge we've got. We've got to get them mentally ready to play this game."
Saturday's game is slated for 11:01 a.m. CT. The contest will be broadcast on ESPN.