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September 8, 2015

Jerry Kill

Minneapolis, Minnesota

JERRY KILL: I appreciate everybody coming. We're looking forward to moving on, which you do in sports. Colorado State is a big challenge for us. They were 10-3 a year ago. They've got a lot of people back, a great wide receiver. But in my opinion the receiving corps is good all around. Defense is very experienced, and we go on the road.

Nothing is easy, and our kids -- I'm not going to say anything more about TCU after this, but I will say that our kids played very, very hard. They're beat up a little bit, which concerns me, and you can't fumble the ball on the 2-yard line and you've got to protect your quarterback's backside. That's it for TCU and we'll move on to Colorado State. Any questions on Colorado State?

Q. In general watching their first game, how different are they now than a year ago?
JERRY KILL: Can't really tell off their first game. I mean, you know, the opponent they played hadn't won a game a year ago, and so I don't think -- Coach is a smart man. He's not going to show a whole lot and very simple, so you've got to go back to Georgia where coach was offensively, you've got to go back where the defensive coordinator was at Central Florida, and then you've got to go -- the special teams guy is still there. It's hard to tell what they'll do. Just like I said, Georgia was different than what Colorado State was last year somewhat, somewhat similar, and so we always find a game that we don't know a lot about the opponent for whatever reason in our scheduling.

Q. With Bobo's offense, what kind of threats are there traditionally for him?
JERRY KILL: Well, there's receivers. I think Higgins is one of the best receivers in the country. I think that's well-known. But he's got some other guys that he can throw to that are very talented. The quarterback looked good the other day throwing the football. And defensively they're very strong. They return everybody.

No-huddle, and I think they scored in five plays and 30 seconds or whatever it was. I mean, they're explosive, and there's a reason they were 10-3 a year ago. That's where we're at on them.

Q. What's your status now of your offensive line and just how confident are you you can get closer to full health by Saturday?
JERRY KILL: Well, it's important because it was certainly a factor in the game. I don't think there's any question about that. But Josh Campion played or practiced yesterday for the first time. Ben Lauer did not. Isaiah Gentry, which we need right now, did not -- or he practiced or ran on the side, but he won't be available this week. And we've got a couple two or three things on defense; we'll just have to see how the week goes. We're banged up a little bit, and part of winning is being healthy, so we've got to find a way to stay healthy or get healthy.

Q. How much can it just help you having Josh back if he is indeed ready to play a game?
JERRY KILL: Huge. I mean, it's huge. I mean, like I said, when you go into a game you've got -- and it's not anybody's fault, but we should have moved Jonah over to left tackle and played Foster a lot earlier because they'd been playing a bunch in that area. We got Ben back, and then had some reps but not a ton, and then he was still sore, so we got him out of there. But that was too late. Made a critical mistake by not getting that done, so I don't blame him, I blame us, I blame me, but it's important to -- you lose two tackles like that, it's important.

There's a possibility that we'll probably right now play Jonah at left tackle. He's playing very well and just move Josh over to right tackle, him and Foster right now, and we'll see how Ben gets along.

Q. How well do you think your defensive backs match up against the wide receivers?
JERRY KILL: Well, we played a very good wide receiver group a week ago, so we certainly got trained to play another one. They're athletic, similar to what TCU has. I think that, like I said, Higgins is a special guy. A person that they don't talk about is the tight end that they got back that didn't play a year ago, and he's a very productive player. I think that will be good, will be a good challenge again for our secondary.

Q. How do you feel you played against TCU?
JERRY KILL: You know, we played hard, very hard, and again, I told y'all a week ago, two turnovers, not going to beat TCU. We had two turnovers, two critical ones, and inside our own territory, we get those, it's different. But we didn't, so move on.

Q. They won the game, so move on?
JERRY KILL: That's correct.

Q. I know with Patterson you guys didn't want to trade any notes, but would it be worth following up soon just to get his complete scouting report?
JERRY KILL: Oh, we'll talk all the time. We have. Those days are over, so we'll go down another 13 years.

Q. Travis limped off the field, too, that day. How is he doing and are you concerned a little bit about him?
JERRY KILL: We'll see.

Q. The freshman running back, he did a pretty good job --
JERRY KILL: Should have played him more. Yeah, I should have played him more. But again, when you play TCU the first game, it's hard to know the first game out of the gate. I think Gary and I would have both liked to play the second game, but we didn't know Rodney was -- we knew he was pretty good, but he wasn't nervous, and he's an eyelash away from breaking one. He's the only back I've had in a long time that played 46 plays and he graded out perfect, never made a mistake, not in pass protection, not running the ball, no mental errors, true freshman. So I'd say he needs to play more.

Q. Did you expect that maybe out of him or is even that a pleasant surprise?
JERRY KILL: Well, I told y'all he's a good back, but nobody knew about him, never said anything about him. Do you expect a freshman running back to do that well? No, not in the first game. Nope.

Q. Did you come close to playing him last year?

Q. What kind of challenge is playing at Colorado State, their home elevation, that kind of thing?
JERRY KILL: Well, they're undefeated at home last year, so I mean, I think that tells you how that proceeds. As far as elevation, all those kind of things, I mean, we don't have the budget to go out there and stay for a week. That's what they tell you to do. We'll go out there, fly out there, get out there, play some ball, 1:30, be done at 4:30, be back home at 9:30, get ready for the next one.

Q. Do you believe in the elevation thing? Is that something you think is a factor?
JERRY KILL: We're not going to talk about it. Adam Weber has been out there and played and so forth, and what I've been told, you do one of two things. You go out and stay a week or you get out there and you don't stay longer than 24 hours, so that's what we'll do. We'll take the shorter route and not talk about it.

Q. Just talk about Mitch's start to the game and then how he finished.
JERRY KILL: I mean, it's just like anything. I think that when he wasn't getting hit in the back, he threw the ball pretty well. But he got hit in the back four or five times, pretty sore afterwards. You know, did some good things. Missed two or three throws that were critical throws. But as I told our offense and so forth, you know, from here on out, for us to do what we need to do, we need to be over 400 yards a game and get 31 points a game. We need to do that, so that's what we've got to do. We've got to pick it up in that area a little bit. We get the right players on the field, hell, that's my fault. We've got to get the right players on the field. We found one and a couple receivers, and there's probably a couple more I'll find at Colorado State. I'll keep that a secret.

Q. How did you think his protection was overall, Mitch's protection?
JERRY KILL: Not as good as we needed to be. It's nobody's fault, but again, we had two offensive linemen, two guys that played a lot of football for us, and we're sitting there playing with Jonah, who's unbelievably playing well. He's really playing well. That's why we don't want to move him. And then Foster Bush, who's had some experience, but he's not a starter right now. Having those two guys, it's tough. We gave up I think a couple sacks. I think that's what it was, a couple sacks, but we had a lot of pressures. Mitch was hit three or four times just as he released the ball, and we did that to TCU's quarterback a little bit, too. But he's pretty good. He's the only guy I know that can throw the ball side-arm on a bubble screen and throw it on a rope because he doesn't want to get the ball knocked down, so he goes like that. There's not many of them like that. You won't see one like that do that. Hope you got a picture of it. It was pretty good. I had too many of them.

Q. You guys, your run-pass balance was pretty similar last week. Colorado State struggled against the run last year. How confident are you that this team can be that ball control, this pound it when you need to --
JERRY KILL: We'll be able to run the ball. It's a different game plan. TCU and what they do in the box, we go two backs in the box, and it's a different beast. We know a lot about them, and defensively they've always been good. You know, they've got good players. Secondary is good and so forth. A lot like our defense. It's very similar. You know, I thought we -- I think they're a little better than they were a year ago, and as he said, we're a lot better than we were a year ago. We didn't win the game, so it doesn't really make a lot of difference. We're 0-1 and got to get the next one. Got to get healthy. That's part of it.

Q. Does playing a team of their caliber, the No. 2 team in the country, does that pay dividends down the road playing that kind of quality?
JERRY KILL: We'll see. The tough thing about playing a team like that right off the bat, it sometimes presents a lot of injuries and things of that nature. But you know, I think us and Wisconsin, we played two very, very good football teams. They got some guys banged, we got some guys banged. But that's part of it, and you know, hopefully we learned that we can do some things.

To answer your question, it doesn't matter at the end of the day. They're on the schedule, and you play them. Like I said, we learned that our kids play hard and they played fast and they busted their tail end and had a lot of fun doing it. We had a tremendous crowd, great atmosphere, and I think that helps. I mean, we go play whoever it is, and the crowd is not going to be like that. Our people at Minnesota, they want to see good football teams come into our stadium. We've got some good ones coming in, so hopefully we'll continue to create that environment because that type of environment is what you've got to have to play college football.

I think if there's a big, big plus to it, playing TCU, Thursday night, primetime was tremendous boost for our program, and even in the loss because of who we were playing. Again, we've got a great home schedule. People want to see those games. That's what they want to see. They want to see Michigan on Halloween night. They want to see Wisconsin. They want to see Nebraska. But we've got to have the same atmosphere. Is that the largest crowd we've had? Yeah, so we need to do that every time. We've got to create the same atmosphere as some of the other schools in the Big Ten do, and we certainly did it, and very proud of the state of Minnesota and the people, but I think to do that, you've got to play people that people want to see, and they seen a hell of a football game, we just didn't win it.

Q. What did you think of your quarterback?
JERRY KILL: When we don't win, there's two guys going to be critical all the time: Head football coach and the quarterback, so that's my answer to that. When we win, quarterback and head coach get a lot of credit. We lose, head coach ought to be fired, quarterback ought to be fired. Is that right? That's the way it is. Thanks.

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