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September 22, 2015

Jerry Kill

Minneapolis, Minnesota

JERRY KILL: To start off the press conference and things, I'll talk very shortly about last week and then move forward, but you know, we've done a lot of things, Sunday with the players, and talked to them quite a bit and worked through some things and kind of seen from an offensive standpoint what they felt they were struggling with and why we didn't play very good up front in some areas. It was interesting on some of the things that the kids said. You know, it was good.

So we got a lot done, a lot more done on Sunday than we normally do, and right now I think we're in the process of -- from an offensive line standpoint, trying to figure out with John Christenson being out and then Joe Bjorklund -- Joe can only practice about one day a week because of his knee, so we're trying to figure out who we can have as somebody to take the load off him.

And young freshmen that are being redshirted are working other areas. They're not quite ready. We spent a lot of time talking about personnel and things we're going to have to do.

You know, when you're struggling, you don't add things, you simplify things as much as you can with your guys, and so that's kind of where we are from there. We understand that the kids are struggling. I think the biggest thing we have to do -- they've been beat down pretty good, and so our job is we've got to get them feeling good, because I always say, if you don't feel good, you're not going to play good. So from a psychological deal, we've got to get them feeling good, and to get them to feel good, they've got to have a little bit of success.

So that's our job, and I basically said that during the press conference after the game, which is always hard to do when you're five minutes here and you walk in. But basically I'm not going to throw kids under the bus because we're not a pro team, and I've never thrown kids under the bus, and I won't. I make $2 million or $2.5 million, and they get books and tuition and fees, so I'd say the guy making the money is the one that needs to get better, and our coaches got to do a better job. We've communicated with the players, and I just was listening to Kirk Ferentz talk about back when he got the job, when they went to the Rose Bowl and so forth, offensively they weren't very good. They were great on defense and special teams, and he said we just didn't turn the ball over and were smart.

There's things you've got to do to adjust, and that's what we're working on, and all you can do is go work hard, and that's where we're at.

With that, any questions?

Q. It sounded like that comment from Ferentz made you feel a little bit better about what's going on here?
JERRY KILL: I don't know if it made me feel better. I still think you win on defense and special teams and you don't turn over the football and you've got a chance to win. He talked about some of the most success stories at Iowa is when they're really good on defense and didn't turn over the ball. He said I think his first year they couldn't run the ball at all, and a lot of people talk about quarterbacks and all that stuff right now, but truly our issue is not running the football as good as we've run the football. I mean, and we've got good backs, and they can carry the rock, but we've got to do better up front, and we've got to find a way to stay healthy, but at the same time, those are excuses. We've got to get it done. That's our job.

I mean, it drives Matt -- Matt is a proud guy. It's hard. But we've got to get it done and got to see what we can do up front to make things a little bit simpler and move forward and take care of the football better and be smarter.

Q. When you win a game scoring 10 points, is it in a way a negative associated with it?
JERRY KILL: You know, if you take anybody and you talk to guys in the NFL, it don't matter how you win as long as you win. You know, that's the thing that -- I don't know. You win 13-7, you watch -- Ohio State won. Everybody is talking about Ohio State and all the problems they got. They won. They beat Northern Illinois, and they only scored 13 offensive points, but they still won. Everybody wants to pull them off No. 1 because they didn't score enough points.

I mean, to me until you lose, you know, why should you drop? The game is about winning and losing, and we're 2-1, and really had a chance to be 3-0 if we don't turn over the football, so it really goes back to not turning over the football for us and being able to run the ball better, because that helps us with pass protection and things of that nature. I mean, we've been hit in the back way too damned many times in pass protection, so we've just got to get better. That's it.

But I can tell you this: If we win 3-0 and we beat Ohio and then we go and play Michigan on Halloween night and we win 6-0, I don't think anybody is going to care, especially if it's Michigan. At the end of the day, just win. Just win.

Q. Can you solve your offensive line issues in one week or is that going to be a gradual process?
JERRY KILL: We're going to try. Yeah, we're going to try. We're going to do the best we can. Uh-huh. We've got a lot of work to do and listening to kids. Some of our kids talked to us about different things we can do. I'm not one that goes and -- you know, you can't blame the kids or the players all the time. You know, you've got to look at what you have and you've got to communicate -- it's like I've coached for 32 years, and I know a lot of different football stuff. They don't know all that stuff. You know, so we may be putting stuff up there on that board that they can't do. We need to find out what they can do, so the only way you find that out is talk with them.

And so, yes, is it going to just snap your fingers? No, but I think we can do some things to help that matter.

Q. Are you talking about simplifying your blocking schemes?
JERRY KILL: Well, some of that, and do a better job of -- for instance, Coach Sawvel, okay, we get done with practice and there's a 10-minute period and he makes sure that all the checks in the secondary, we've probably got to do more than that on the offensive side of the ball. It don't have to be sprinting and beating the hell out of somebody. It can be, hey, okay, they're running the truck blitz, pick it up and so forth. We've got to do more. We're doing it, but evidently we need to do more, and the kids said that helps them, so if that helps them, we're going to do it more.

The players, the kids on offense, they're willing to do anything. You know, they don't -- let's put it this way: How many of you have children out there? All right, if you tell them they're not worth anything and they're bad all the time, are you going to like that? You want somebody to tell your kid, hey, you're terrible? Before long the kid is going to think he's terrible; is that right? All the ones raise your hand that have kids. You've got a kid and you're telling him every day he's terrible. You're a bad kid, you're a bad kid, you can't play, you can't play. Before long they don't think they can play. So it's no different on a football team.

My job as a head coach, I've got to get them to understand, hey, we're going to be all right, calm down here a little bit. You know, we'll be fine. If I remember right, Western Illinois we didn't play very good, what was it, a couple years ago. I mean, and we seen a couple against Colorado State, we seen a whole different defense and against Kansas State, they didn't play like they played Illinois. But again, it's all excuses. We have to find out what we can do to get things fixed as quickly as possible.

Nothing is ever easy, but I think we can certainly improve, you know, this week. I really do. I'm looking forward to it because controversy sometimes makes you better, you know. I've had a lot of that in my life, and kids, it makes them mentally tougher. It's like I said, I said, hey, guys, if you think this is tough, wait until you get in real life. This will prepare you. That's what football really is. You get pounded, you get pounded, and then you're going to have that in a whole life, so I've tried to swing it that way. Football is part of training you for life.

We have to. We've got to get them better as quick as we can.

Q. Are you satisfied with the balance between hurry-up offense and huddle offense?
JERRY KILL: Well, no, and I get questions all the time about that. I've said before, we'd like to be no different than a lot of the pro teams to where if they're struggling with tempo, then pick it up and adjust from there if we need to. The problem is with that right now, when you're short up front in the offensive line, you try to do too much of that, then all of a sudden your offensive line is tired and so forth.

We're going to have to play -- it's really going to come down to we're going to make some mistakes up there, but right now, and we're going to have to -- Tyler Moore, for instance, he's backup center right now. We may have to play him somewhere else. He may have to learn two positions. Do I want to do that with a freshman? No, but I've got no choice.

And if you get a little deeper, maybe you can do more of that.

Q. Besides the post-practice mental reps that they mentioned were helpful to them, what other feedback did the players give you?
JERRY KILL: I'd rather not go into all of that. I've already said something that I thought -- a lot of things. Even things that weren't football-related. Playing tight, you know, being unsure, things of that nature. Well, then I ask them why. Why are you doing that? So we just talk. It's kind of like talking to your kid. You've got to figure out why he's struggling in math, so you just talk to him. What are we going to do to fix it, and we've got to work together to fix it. It's not a time to come in and say, oh, you're terrible. Did I say -- I will say this: I said, all the things I've felt that you've talked to me about, I said, I agree with you. I said, it's great. We should have done this -- should feel great about it. But there is one thing I'll tell you that I'm right on is that I said we are supposed to be a tough, physical team, and I said, that's a little bit what I'm disappointed -- even if you make a mistake, go make it hurt.

There's a time to yell at somebody and there's a time to teach, and right now is a time to teach. They feel bad enough as it is. I know they played not very good.

Q. It's a 10-7 game, and how much did that shrink your playbook in the running play on 3rd down like in terms of fans are like, why aren't they going for it here, but you needed a play to get out of there with a win at that point?
JERRY KILL: All I can do is our staff, we always go back and evaluate it, and I think we did exactly what we needed to do to win the game. I mean, there's always opinions and so forth on what you do, but at the point in time, I talked to Archie Manning, I don't know what it was, a week ago, after that game, Dallas. Wasn't it Dallas when they were playing the Giants? They decided to throw the ball instead of run it, and then there was 25, 30 seconds that went off the clock. Same thing down there; if we'd have thrown the ball, all right, then the clock -- and it's incomplete, and we don't get the 1st down, then they've got more time. We're playing really good defense at the time, so why do that. Run the ball, take the clock down, because they didn't have any time-outs. We felt that was the right thing to do.

The only thing you could have done is took a penalty and pooch kicked it at the end of the game, try to get it down and make them go farther, but I think we all have so much confidence in our kicker, we thought, we'll stick it in there and so forth. Those are things you can question me on and say, hey, should you have punted it or kicked it. In retrospect, we'd have missed the field goal, so we should have took the penalty and punted it, make them go 85, 90 yards.

Pete had a great day. Our punter had a great day. That special teams thing can help us out a lot until we get going. But nobody has pushed the -- we just got to -- we've just got to execute and get better. I mean, that's what we've got to do. And our kids know it. That's the good thing. And they're embarrassed by it. If they didn't think, if they thought it was something else, but they know. We'll get it fixed.

But again, I'm never going to apologize for a win. I felt like I was apologizing for a win, and like I told our kids, you never apologize for winning, baby. It don't matter if it's one point; who cares.

Any other questions?

Q. There was a time in this program, maybe even before you got here, that any win was celebrated, and everyone felt really good no matter what happened on the field. But do you feel like there's at least some progress that maybe the expectation is a little bit higher for games against Kent State and --
JERRY KILL: Listen, this is the best problem you'd ever have in some aspects. That doesn't bother me at all. I mean, as you do better and you want to continue to do better -- I'd rather have somebody care than not care. You know, somebody said something about getting booed. I didn't know we were getting booed. I've got the headsets on. Somebody asked me that question in the press, and I said, I mean, they can boo me all they want. The way I look at it, they pay a ticket, they can boo. Hell, I'd have booed. I might not have booed, I might have been screaming and yelling. I mean, my wife asked me the same question after the press conference. She said, well, you didn't play very good on offense.

So I mean, you know what I mean? I understand all that. I think that's good. I mean, that's a better problem than nobody showing up for the game. You know, so I'm okay with that. There's nothing I'm not okay with. The only thing during the press conference after the game, I kept getting asked about specific players and players, and I'm not going to throw a player under the bus. I'm just not going to. I mean, I just -- you know, if everybody wants to talk about the quarterback, well, it's my fault. I've got to do a better job coaching him or I've got to place him -- whatever. But we've got other issues besides one person, or they asked me about the offensive line. Hey, this guy didn't play very well. Nope, coach got to do a better job of coaching him. That's just who I am. When I keep getting pounded and pounded about it, I just reacted. It wasn't anything personal to anybody or anything.

I've fired myself a lot of times. Should have been on Saturday. We didn't play very well. If I was the AD, I'd have been in the office wanting to know why the hell we didn't move the ball better. Then I'd have told the AD, hell, we won.

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