Coach Kill Remaining Positive

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Go Gophers! Coach Kill
Go Gophers!
Coach Kill plans to turn the Gophers' lack of bowl eligibility into a positive, he said Tuesday.
Go Gophers!

Watch Coach Kill's Entire Press Conference (Gopher All-Access)

Jerry Kill will tell you he hasn't had too many bad days in his life. It's also well-known that much of his coaching career has been spent taking programs that were in a downward spiral and putting them on an upward trend.
So, his response when asked if it bothers him that up to 10 other Big Ten teams could be getting an extra 15 practices in preparation for a bowl game this season was really not surprising. Coach Kill said there are ways the time that other teams are spending on bowl practices can be put to good use.

"You turn it to a positive," Kill said. "We'll be recruiting. What are you going to do? We'll take it as a positive. We'll still be here. We'll be farther along than we were last year. I wasn't here at this time last year. We'll have a good recruiting base. 

Go Gophers! Coach Kill
Go Gophers!
Coach Jerry Kill
Go Gophers!
"Our kids will be working in the off-season," Kill added. "We need to get in the weight room and get stronger and faster anyway. Sometimes if you're 6-6, going to a bowl game ...  right now we need to be in the weight room getting bigger, stronger, faster. We'll take it and turn it into a positive. Nothing else we can do about it."

Of course the person asking that question was assuming that this week's Gopher opponent - Northwestern - will win one of its two remaining games to get to bowl eligibility. Northwestern is seeking a fifth straight season of bowl eligibility, which would be a school record. Kill's squad would like to make the Wildcats go into their Nov. 26 game with Michigan State needing a win to reach a bowl game. 

But Kill says that will be a difficult task, especially facing a high-octane Wildcat offense.

"I think they understand what they're trying to do," Kill said of the Northwestern offensive unit. "It starts with the quarterback (Dan Persa). (He) throws for a high percentage, makes good decisions. They always seem to find quarterbacks there at Northwestern. He can beat you with his feet.  He throws the short passing game, very precise routes and they do a good job of getting open. They are a very disciplined offensive football team.  They're just good at what they do."

Large Support System
Going back to coach in the State of Illinois, where he coached for 10 years prior to coming to Minnesota won't be much different than any other road trip, Kill said. He did admit that he will probably have a good number of friends, family, former players and other well-wishers in Evanston Saturday. But even that isn't much different than any other road trip or home game, for that matter.

"I've been fortunate," Kill said. "I've been blessed.  Every week ... as a staff, we have ex-players from all over the place coming in. We don't have enough tickets to get people tickets to get to the game. We've had a huge following. We'll have a huge group of people. That's why you coach."

Kill said his former players, many of who were with him through a real struggle at the beginning of his tenure at Southern Illinois, have encouraged his new team to hang in there. Coach Kill likes to tell his team that those who perservere will be rewarded in the long run. His former players have echoed that sentiment.

"A lot of the ex-players have been supportive of me because they know I'm not a very good loser," Kill said. "They know I'm not very good at it. A lot of the kids that were part of that 1-10 season when I went to Southern Illinois have been up here, been in the locker room actually, talked to some of our players. They have said, 'Stick with the old man. Do what he tells you. You'll win. We're living proof of it.'  They've been supportive of me without me even asking, which is a neat thing."

But Kill reiterated he is firmly entrenched here in Minnesota now, despite coming off a decade in the state he just happens to be coaching a game in this weekend.

"I look forward to going back," he said. "But I just want to see our team get better.  I'm at the University of Minnesota right now. I'm in the state of Minnesota. My wife and I love it here.
"My wife and I both are disappointed for everybody in the state," Kill continued. "Our time will come. I walked off the field Saturday and I went through the tunnel and walked into the locker room, had to go talk to those kids. All I'll tell you is our time will come. It all cycles back around eventually. I look forward to being in that cycle. I don't like being in this one."

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