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UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MEDIA CONFERENCE


September 4, 2012


Jerry Kill


COACH KILL: I appreciate everybody coming out today.  We got a beautiful day, and we're looking forward to getting back out on the field, and had a nice practice yesterday.  And moving forward and getting ready for Saturday's game, so at this time I'll take any questions that you have.

Q.  Jerry, what can you do as a coaching staff to prevent some of the problems that MarQueis had with being over anxious and just simply overthrowing the receivers?  Is there something you can do game planning wise or at practice?
COACH KILL:  I don't think you make a big deal out of it.  I think early in the season if you watch most offensive football teams, you know, sometimes you don't have your timing and execution down.  We've been playing a lot of different receivers, and you know, to me you just go back to work; and that's what we did, and the more you practice, the more you create timing, the better you get and the more you play with another person.  So I think it's a timing issue.
And you know, again, we have to look as a coaching staff, we certainly want to be able to execute better in those situations, but at the same time you hadn't had him throw I think one time for 287yards last year and was 17 for 30.¬† So the tough thing is is when you have people wide open, you certainly want to execute those throws, and we certainly ‑‑ you know, film doesn't lie, so you go in and you teach from those films, and these are the things that we have to do.
And one thing you don't want to do is overthrow a deep ball.  I'd rather under throw a deep ball than overthrow it because if you under throw it, you got a chance for an interference call, the guy can come back and get it, but you overthrow a deep ball, it's like a foul ball sometimes, so you don't want to do that.

Q.  The defense started slow and then picked it up.  Can you talk about the defense?
COACH KILL:¬† I thought the defense played ‑‑ you know, from watching the film, I don't think we really started slow.¬† I thought we played very well on the defensive side of the football until maybe we got into overtime.¬† We lost some contain on the inside run game a couple times in overtime that hurt us, and then we made a couple mistakes at the corner position that hurt us.¬† But other than that, I thought we played very aggressive, much faster than we did a year ago.
Probably the biggest thing that I was impressed with in the game is that, you know, they hired new offensive and defensive coordinators.  They moved some people around.  From a defensive standpoint, we had prepared for the pistol offense because that's what they'd done in the past.  Coach went back to more what he did at Montana, more under center, one back, and it's a totally different scheme.  And our kids did a really good job of not getting all rattled and settled in.  Coaches did a good job of getting them adjusted, and I think the defense did a great job.
On offense a little bit, the same thing.  We've seen a few different things, and I don't think we adjusted as well, or the kids didn't adjust as well.  But defensively I thought we adjusted pretty well, and if we don't make a couple mistakes on contain on the back side of the inside zone, I think we'd all feel better and the game would have been over sooner.  But those things happen and you teach from the film.
But I thought we ran around really well, and I thought we played hard, and I thought Derrick Wells ‑‑ I thought our safeties were outstanding in the game.¬† I think we gotta play better at corner, but I thought our safety play was very good.

Q.  Jerry, what can you do to contain a little bit better defensively?  They had some success getting out on the boundary on you.
COACH KILL:  I think I just mentioned that.  Again, we gotta make sure from a corner standpoint when the ball bounces in the type of scheme that we were in, you know, the corner's gotta keep leverage on the football, and we didn't keep leverage on the football in a couple plays.

Q.  The young receivers, how are they coming along?  Is that part of maybe the timing issues that you saw sometimes in the opener?
COACH KILL:¬† Again, I think ‑‑ again, we don't get preseason games to work on.¬† I don't think there's anything that simulates game speed, and in the NFL they get preseason games, but I imagine the speed of the game ‑‑ I haven't played in the NFL.¬† I imagine when they truly start it gets even faster than it is.¬† So I think you always run into that a little bit.¬† But we have a young football team, very young at receivers.¬† So I think in time it works out.¬† We'll see.
But what I was impressed by with the young receivers, we got by people, and we haven't got by people since I've been here.¬† We haven't got by people ‑‑ I mean we had people beat four, five, sixyards, and things like that which was exciting to see.¬† I thought Fruechte got by people.¬† He was worn out and didn't get rewarded.¬† So you want to get a guy rewarded when he's doing that.¬† Tufts did some good things.¬† K.J. Maye is a true freshmen, did some great things.¬† They're all young.¬† They're all freshmen and sophomores, except for Brandon Green, as I tell him, the old man in the receiving core.
But they're all young and talented.  The toughest thing for us, we lost our most talented offensive player early in the game in Jamel Harbison.  And he'll be out for the year, and I guess the good thing about it, it happened early enough, is that we'll still get four years out of him and he'll heal up good because he's that type of kid, so that was a tough thing.

Q.  Speaking of receivers, what did you think about A.J. Barker?
COACH KILL:  A.J. played excellent.  I was talking, I believe to Phil a little bit about that.  He'd asked me back in a week, asked me about receivers, and I said A.J. Barker has really done a nice job in camp, has gotten better and better.  He played very well.  Right now he has done some good, good things and made an outstanding catch on the boundary about as good as you'll see, got his feet on the ground.  And I'm very pleased with A.J.  This is the first time he's been healthy since I've been here.  But he can run.  He's got good speed, good hands, and it was encouraging to see him to play on game day like he did.

Q.¬† What's your view of openers in general?¬† There's a lot of coaches around the country kicking themselves.¬† Northern Iowa almost beats Wisconsin.¬† Is that kind of a strange ‑‑
COACH KILL:¬† You know, it's one of those things, I think it's where you're at program‑wise and what you're doing and who you are, so to speak.¬† When you're building a program, it may be different.¬† If you're Alabama, it may be a different philosophy and so forth, you know.¬† You watch Alabama and they might be able to beat some NFL teams right now.
But you know, I think opening games ‑‑ but really college football, what makes it good, you better be able to ‑‑ you better strap it up every week, and you better be ready to play, because there's good teams everywhere, and it doesn't matter what level, so to speak, it is.¬† You better be ready to play.
So that's our message to our kids, but I think we understand that because we've been through that here not getting some of the games that you need to get.

Q.  How about some of these 11:00a.m. games?  Are you all right with that?
COACH KILL:  You know, I don't get to control it, so I have to be all right with it.  That's not a decision I make, and if they tell us play at eight in the morning, we'll play at eight in the morning.
You know, I'm an old traditionalist, college football guy, like playing in the afternoon, Friday night football, high school.  But that's all changed.  So to sit around and complain about it, I think you embrace college football.  It's on.  It's a tremendous sport.  We played at 11:00, and from a coach's standpoint, it's a great thing, because we play 11:00, then that gives us more time to prepare for the next one.
This last game we prepared for was very difficult because we flew into Vegas.¬† We had a walk‑through at night, then we laid around, you got till 8:00 till we played.¬† Now, we're glad we played at 8:00 because of the heat, but when you play early, you don't have all that anxiety through the day.¬† You can get out there and get ready to play.¬† I think there's pluses and minuses to everything.

Q.  It was a real plus to be able to get the tight ends some balls on the offense?
COACH KILL:  It's always good to get your tight ends involved.  I think you see that more and more in football.  And John did a good job of catching some balls that we needed to in critical positions, and MarQueis did a good job throwing it.
Any time you have a young man that can block and also be a good receiving tight end helps you, I think you see more college football and pro football going that way.
We certainly in the recruiting process right now, that's a big priority for us is finding that athletic tight end.  So it is critical, because you're seeing so much safety support right now in pro and college football, you better have some guys inside that can get vertical.

Q.  What do you know about New Hampshire?
COACH KILL:¬† Well, they're a program that's used to winning.¬† They've been winning a long time.¬† If I would compare them to someone here local, North Dakota State, that was a team we played last year.¬† New Hampshire's been in the 1AA playoffs year in, year out.¬† The coach has been there for a long time.¬† They definitely have a great system.¬† They're well coached.¬† They're going to spread you out.¬† They're going to snap it 90 to 100 times a game.¬† They're no‑huddle offense.¬† They're going to get up, boom, boom, boom, boom.
And defensively they're eight‑man front.¬† They got some similarities to UNLV, except they'll maybe do more zone pressures than man pressure.¬† And they're very good in the kicking game.
But offensively they're very much want to be like an Oklahoma State or an Oregon pace.  They want to get the ball snapped as many times as they can.

Q.  Coach, how long can the running backs sort themselves out?  Are you still going to be trying out three or four guys?
COACH KILL:  Oh, I don't think we're trying out anybody.  I'll still quote Sabin's line.  I think somebody asked him if he's running back by committee, and he said, "we're not running back by committee.  We're playing good players."  I think what we'll try to do is right now I think we have more depth at running back than we had a year ago.
Again, we play a schedule as we get into the Big 10, it's a very physical league is that we'll need every one of them we can get, and right now we had four kids that were productive in the football game in different ways.  K.J. Maye is a true freshmen, was able to do some things catching the ball.  Devon did some nice things on a couple of runs, and then Kirkwood and Gillum got a good bulk of the work.
And I thought that was maybe the surprise for me, how well at running back that we played and how physical we played and how well we did at receiver.  You know, other areas I thought we would be a little farther along.  So that was a surprise to me, and I thought Donnell ran very physical and played very hard, blocked very well.  And James had picked it up to what I thought I'd seen back when we recruited him at Gulf Coast, and I think during camp he got ran down, but he had a little snap in him and ran well.
And K.J. Maye is going to be a special football player.¬† He's got a little get‑up‑and‑go to him, and I think his role will increase as the season increases.

Q.  Coach, why do you think you struggled with FCS opponents in recent years?
COACH KILL:¬† I was one of those, so I can't really ‑‑ or I haven't ‑‑ I struggled last year, and I'll be honest with you, North Dakota State, they kicked our butt.¬† They physically beat us.¬† They're better than us.¬† It is what it is.¬† They kicked our butt.
You know, I think that any time being on the other side of that is when you come in and play, this is a bowl game for New Hampshire.  North Dakota State, it's a big game.  And so you have a little incentive.  And when I was at another school, there's incentive to go play.  I mean we won a lot of games when I was 1AA at different places, but as the head coach, I told them, hey, this is your deal here.  It'll put you on the map.  The kids, they're going to play their best.  You're going to get their best.  So if you don't bring yours, you'll get in trouble.
But I really believe this.  I met with our team council on Monday.  I talked about, hey, what we need to do this week to get better, and I said, now, you understand where you're at and the message you need to send.  And I think our kids understand where they're at because of what they've gone through in the past.  Younger ones don't know any better, but the older ones do.  And as they put on their shirt, you know, it's actually the shirt that Gary Tinsley used to wear all the time, underdog.  The way we look at it, we're the underdog every game.  So we better play.  And so that's how we've approached it.

Q.  How is your health and is it less stressful coaching now than it was when you first got here?
COACH KILL:  My health's good.  I appreciate that very much.  As far as coaching, you know, I think that it wouldn't matter, probably no different than you or any of you here, is any time you really want to be the best as what you do, there's going to be stress involved.  That's just the way it is.  You know, you want to be the best.  And I think the other part of it, there's not anybody from a coaching standpoint, and our players, our players really work hard, that don't want to do well for the state of Minnesota.
And is there a stress factor in that?  You bet because you want to do well.  You don't want to let people down and things of that nature, and you know, I think that we're building a program and we're working at it very hard.  So I was more happier for the kids than anybody, and our fans, but we gotta continue to improve.
But I think when you want to get better and you want to do well, there's always stress involved if you want to be the best.  If you don't, you don't want to be the best, then you're wasting a lot of time.

Q.  Coach, how was MarQueis during and after the game?  Did he understand what was going on, the problems?
COACH KILL:¬† I think that, again, I think any quarterback or any great player or any coach, I mean MarQueis was fine on the boundary.¬† He was very even‑keeled and those kind of things.¬† I just think like anything, you get in a game and there's live bullets flying, and sometimes you're a little strung up and throw a little long.
And you know, I'm sure he got frustrated a couple times.  I think we all did, but at the same time you keep your composure.  I think the encouraging thing we need to remember is when the chips were on the line, which we have not done, since I've been here.  I can't speak for the past.  But since I've been here we've never had a team that's kind of kept their composure on the sidelines, I didn't see anybody when the chips were down going, oh, here we go again.  Last year that's all I seen.
I didn't see that at all, and MarQueis hung in there, and we made some plays at the end of the game.  He made some plays at the end of the game.  He stuck the pass into John Rabe between linebacker and safety.  Wasn't an easy throw.  So he stayed in there pretty good considering the deal.
And I think the frustrating stuff from us as a group of coaches from the offensive side of the ball is I think we had 487yards of total offense and didn't have a lot to show for it.  We missed plays.  We didn't make critical plays or made a critical mistake, things of that nature, which you know, is frustrating.  There's no question about that.
And hopefully ‑‑ that's what we've worked on during the week and you go back and we spent time in third‑down situations yesterday, a lot of time, because we gotta be a hell of a lot better on third down than we were in that game.¬† So we go back and work on it.¬† We worked on certain things that we made mistakes on and you emphasize, but it's like anything else.¬† When you emphasize one area, it seems like something else breaks, but that's why if everything was perfect, we wouldn't have a job.¬† So we try to get things fixed.

Q.  Being this is a home opener, how important is it to get fans and students involved?
COACH KILL:  I think as far as where we're at, it's important.  I mean it's important.  I think every game is important.  Your first home game is really important.  It's the first chance that even though people might have seen it in Vegas or watched it on TV, it's not the same as watching it live and going to the stadium.  I think it's important for everybody.
I think it's important for our administration.  Game day atmosphere, we have some new things happening.  How is that going to go out.  I'm going to be out on campus on Friday.  Norwood's going to be out on campus on Friday.
Again, in building a program, you gotta do more than just coach.¬† I'd like to go in that office and do nothing but coach and stay hidden out and coach football, but I'm not in position to do that when you're building a program.¬† I've gotta coach.¬† I've gotta get out there and get people on board.¬† We have to do a whole lot of things to get things ‑‑ and then we have to win with it; and winning solves a lot of problems.¬† I think we all know that, but that's not easy to do from week to week where we're at right now either.¬† But we keep pushing, moving forward, and you know, we look forward, I look forward to Saturday, 11:00.¬† I want to see us get better.¬† I don't want to see us take a step back.¬† I want to see us move forward, and let's move forward every week and get a little better.

Q.  Can you touch on what you specifically are doing for this week?  Like last year you did some lunches, stuff like that.  Anything in particular you're doing for this week?
COACH KILL:¬† Getting our team ready to play is the most important, but I'll go out on Friday, and did last year, and get in the middle of campus and meet the students and hand out some things to them, some T‑shirts, some Snickers bars and shake their hand and tell them how much we need them.
What night was it, Norwood?  I've forgotten.  Was it Friday night?  Friday, got to speak to every student on campus at orientation.  And again, I haven't been here that long; been here one year, but it was a much bigger crowd than it was last year when I talked to that group of people and they were very enthusiastic.  And I told them some very enthusiastic information that probably would get me in trouble if I told you what I said in here, but I told them to have a good time, so to speak, and we need to be user friendly and we need to be accommodating.  And you figure that out.

Q.  Coach, the defense is trying to confuse the offense.  Does that happen a lot?  Is that going on all the time and was this especially egregious?
COACH KILL:  I think it's happening more and more.  I think defensive coaches are doing more and more.  You look at pro football.  It's become a disguise game.  You know, secondaries are trying to do things, moving in and out on the snaps because the quarterbacks have gotten good.  The receivers have got signals.
If you got a good quarterback and the quarterback's been playing the game and he's hooked up with a great receiver the last four or fiveyears, sometimes they can communicate without even saying anything.
But defensively right now a lot of people are shifting fronts and stuff on you to confuse the blocking schemes, and they'll get up there and communicate and they'll "move, move, move," and then you're in the middle of a snap count.  So if your quarterback is not real decisive in his snap count, it sounds the same as the "move, move."
We jumped offsides twice.  Once they called it on their defense because they were so distinct about it.  The second time Josh Campion jumped in a real critical situation.  Same thing happened there, but they didn't call it in that situation and probably didn't call it because they probably didn't feel like it was as strong as it was the first time.
So it's a judgmental thing, and we had it happen.  Our defense moves around.  We've had it happen in practice.  We've asked the officials.
But the bottom line is you really gotta be locked in from an offensive standpoint to the voice of your quarterback.  But there's a whole lot, if you took a mic and you put over football and you listened to all the communication before a snap, it would really be interesting for everybody because the offensive linemen are talking about their combination block.  The guy moves, you gotta change your whole scheme.  Everybody's gotta be on the same page.  And if you're not, then it doesn't work.  So a lot of communication in football.
That's why I said if we had a cell phone, we'd get everything communicated well because they're on them all the time.  But with them actually talking to each other, that seems to be difficult sometimes.

Q.  From a confidence perspective, how important for a young team is it to not only win the first game but win it on the road?
COACH KILL:¬† I think it was ‑‑ somebody said, coach, if you lost that game, well, I'd be devastated.¬† It is what it is.¬† You don't want to lose the first game.¬† We put a lot of emphasis on winning that game.
From a coach's standpoint it would have been a lot less stressful if we'd have threw a few balls, caught them, scored touchdowns and been a 21‑point game or whatever it may have been.¬† Winning it that way, however, is maybe what we needed more than anything because we hadn't done something like that.¬† So you can look at it a lot of different ways, but the bottom line is you never apologize for winning and you get the win and you move on, and now you gotta get your football team better.
And we knew nothing really about our football team until we went and played.  And I guess some things is that some of the kids I didn't know for sure how they'd do, they did really well.  And some of the kids that I said we'll really be in good shape, they need to get their game going, and I think we've got a chance to be better and get better.
And then we have to stay injury free also like everybody does.  But that health factor in a long season is really important.

Q.  Besides Harbison what is the injury situation?
COACH KILL:  Right now, that's where we're at.  That was a good thing during the game.  That's where we're at to this point.
But you know, that was a critical thing because he'd had just a tremendous camp.  He really had.  But at the same time, I talked to him, he's a great personality and he goes, Coach, I got a little experience.  I didn't play real good, so I learned a little bit and I'll be ready for next year.  So he's got a good attitude with it.
Thank you, I appreciate everybody coming out.  It means a lot to our program.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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