Blog: Kill Hoping Christmas Comes Early for Seniors

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When I was growing up (way, way back in the 1970s) we didn't start to think about Christmas until about this time of year. Once a little snow had fallen and Turkey Day was in the offing, looking forward to Christmas was allowed. 

These days, you barely get to mid-October and the Christmas decorations are already overtaking the Halloween stuff at your local department or home improvement store. Can we at least get through Halloween before the retailers start pushing Christmas stuff at us? This is really bothersome to me. 

And about this Black Friday stuff starting on Thursday night ... 

But I digress. Where was I headed with this post again? Oh, yes ... Christmas. Now that we're almost to Thanksgiving and we're in the last week of the football season, Christmas was on head coach Jerry Kill's mind during today's weekly press conference at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex. 

With Saturday's game at TCF Bank Stadium serving as Senior Day for the Gophers, Coach Kill was focused on trying to send his first group of Gopher seniors out with a bang. Kill is hoping his team can play Santa Claus a little early and drop a W down the chimney of the Minnesota seniors.

"If I could have a Christmas list ... I'd love to see those seniors get a win on Saturday, I really would, because they've been through a whole lot throughout the program, and I certainly would like to see that for those kids," Kill said. "And I told the underclassmen that.  I've challenged our underclassmen, 'Hey, you need to play your guts out this week.  We need to send these kids out on a good note.'  But we're playing Illinois and that's not an easy thing.  They're a good football team."

While Kill was focused on his seniors and preparation for a game with a talented Illinois squad, many members of the media were focused on putting a bow on the 2011 season, while looking forward to unwrapping the present that will be 2012. Kill was asked exactly one question about Illinois and exactly one more about this year's team and its preparation for this week's game.

Kill was asked if he was having fun, going 2-9 so far this season. Anyone who has spent any time around Coach Kill knows the answer to that.

"I've enjoyed the process, and I enjoy coaching," Kill said. "But I don't think you ever have fun losing a game.  I think that I don't have a lot of fun on Saturday on the flight home, but neither do the kids, neither does anybody if you're a competitor.  It's not fun when you don't win.  Certainly over the last four or five weeks I've really enjoyed coaching these kids, because like I said, we're going to have practice today; we're going to practice hard, and they'll practice hard.  So I've enjoyed it -- and I see it changing.  If I didn't see it changing, I wouldn't be saying it."

"That's just the way I'm wired," Kill continued. "I enjoy life. I enjoy coaching the game. I enjoy the process."

So, what about next year, Coach?

"I will tell you, we'll be better next year," Kill said. "I can tell you that. Our goal is going to be set high. I'm not going to tell you (those goals) today because I haven't talked to our team and all that. But we'll be better and we'll move it forward.  I believe that.  And I think we have in some aspects, and I'm disappointed we haven't won a couple more games. But I'll be disappointed if we don't move it forward (next year ... I've got high standards."

But before Kill can talk to his team about next year's goals, the Gophers have one more opportunity to put a check in the W column Saturday. The Gophers have a chance to send their seniors out winners.

"This is more about the seniors," Kill said. "This senior class has been through a whole lot through their careers here.  Duane Bennett, he played as hard as he could play, he played hard on Saturday ... Kim Royston really had a good football game on Saturday.  They've been through -- just take those two kids alone -- been through a lot. I'd love to see those seniors get a win on Saturday."

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