Jerry Kill ready, excited about transition at Minnesota

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Despite being in the MAC, Jerry Kill had some success against the Big Ten in his three-year tenure with Northern Illinois. Kill’s Huskies beat Purdue in 2009, and beat Minnesota in 2010, which was one of the major factors in the firing of Tim Brewster.

Now, Kill has begun to turn around the Minnesota program he beat 10 months ago. But Kill doesn’t think success at NIU will necessarily translate directly to success at Minnesota.

“You have to play those games week in and week out. When you’re at a mid-major, you may play two or three,” Kill said in his Big Ten Media Day press conference. That’s a huge game when you play them. You’re not playing that competition week in, week out, week in, week out. I think that’s the difference. Certainly as coaches, we certainly understand that.”

One of the main factors helping Kill transition to Minnesota will be the staff he brings with him.

“I think we’re one of the top six in the country that’s had a staff together for the longest period of time,” Kill said. “I think when you take a new job over and you’re going into a new place, having people that are familiar with what you’re doing, it helps us get maybe started a little quicker. I’ve done this two or three different times. Of course now we’re in the Big Ten trying to do it. We’re excited about that.”

Indiana newcomer Kevin Wilson said he won’t watch past film in preparation for the transition. Kill, however, is pursuing a different approach.

“As far as me coming to the University of Minnesota, we had played them so I knew quite a bit about it at the beginning and watched a lot of film anyway. Have I gone back and looked at some things? Yes. I’ve gone back through the history of the University of Minnesota, all the way back to the ’60,” Kill said.

One of the main issues Kill will have to tackle is that of recruiting enough talent to compete week-in, week-out with other Big Ten powerhouses. Kill is not looking to simply recruit the top names in the country, however.

“We’ve got to get to a situation where we got to get a football team that reflects the state of Minnesota and also our university from an academic standpoint to an athletic standpoint,” Kill said.

“Through my past, we’re always looking for speed… So I think in the overall spectrum, I don’t think we’re any different than anybody else. If you wanted to say what you would want to look like, we’d like to look like we did at Northern Illinois. We had some athletic kids that could run, skilled, could make some plays, went to class. We had one of the highest APRs in the country. That’s what we’d like to do at the University of Minnesota.”

Kill will have an extremely athletic signal caller in MarQueis Gray this season, about whom the coach said “there is no question without a doubt the most gifted athlete on our team.” But with an incredibly tough schedule, Kill will need a lot of magic to go along with Gray if he wants to have success in his first season. The Gophers visit USC, Michigan, and Michigan State, and face Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska at home.

Kill was 23-16 at Northern Illinois, and took the Huskies to three straight bowl games.

 

-Jamie Arkin

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