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UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA MEDIA CONFERENCE


October 16, 2012


Jerry Kill


COACH KILL: Let's get started. First, appreciate everybody's attendance. Looking forward to this weekend's game, a huge game for us, big rivalry game. It's what college football is all about. And the biggest thing is it gives us an opportunity to get out and get better. That's what you try to do each week.
With that being said, I won't tell you who I called; I haven't talked on the phone much since Saturday, but I picked up the phone to call somebody that I respect. He's coached this game for a tremendous amount of years, and I was talking to him about our situation a little bit, and I'd like to say it was my words, but it's his.
He says, "Coach," he said, "you're just about where you are when you turn a program around." I said, "what's that?" He said, "When you first get into a program, you're just not very darn good." Then he said, "then you start progressing a little bit and you start winning some and then you start thinking maybe we're pretty good, and then all of a sudden, you know, you win a few games, but you just can't quite get over the corner, and then frustration comes in." He said, "That's kind of where you're at. And then the third thing is when you get that program built, then you just find ways to win. You don't find ways to lose."
So I think we're in that situation right now, that we're a little bit frustrated because we just can't make a play or two or we can't do the fundamental things that you'd like to do to take that next step. I said all along we don't have any margin for error and we've made some errors that are fundamental that hurt you.
So I think that's exactly ‑‑ I needed to hear that from somebody I respect a lot, but I really feel like that's about where we're at, and you know, you just keep plunging away. But we just haven't been able to make a few plays here in the last two ball games, and I've said all along since we've been talking at the very beginning, we have no margin for error. And you know, we had too much margin of error over those two games.
But moving forward, that's what we have to do is moving forward with that is that we need to take what we've had over the last two weeks. Our kids have had good attitudes. They had good attitudes on Sunday, and we're so darn young I don't think they know any better. So they're looking forward to practice and getting better.
I'll go over this so I don't have to cover it because I'll get asked is that our injury report, so you know and then I don't have to worry about going through it, but foster bush is an offensive lineman that's out this week, was out last week. Roland Johnson will be questionable.
Ed Olson is very questionable and probably won't play. Devin Tufts is questionable and probably won't play. Derrick Wells has a laceration on his knee. Hopefully we can get him healed up to where he's able to go. MarQueis is a question mark. Isaac Fruechte is a question mark, and Marcus Jones is a question mark. So that's where we're at, so I don't have to go through all that.
That's another thing. You gotta stay healthy in that process, too, and at one time during the game we had five starters that were not playing. So we just didn't have a lot of good continuity, but as I tell our coaches all the time, those are excuses. You know, you gotta find a way to get it done. So we gotta have those players that step in, they gotta step in and get it done. So that's what we'll focus on in practice and we're looking forward to that. So with that I'll take any questions.

Q. Coach, how serious is MarQueis's injury?
COACH KILL: I'd say probably, Phil, to be really straightforward, I think he's about like where he was at in the off week. You know, he's in a boot. I'm optimistic where we can get him jogging some this afternoon, but he hasn't jogged ‑‑ jogged a little bit this morning and struggled a little bit with it.
But it's frustrating for him. I know that. I mean it's frustrating for all of us, but you know, at the end of the day you care about the kids, and you know, he's doing well and then comes up and he just had some tough luck. That's all there is to it. But he'll battle back and find a way.
Our deal is we just gotta find a way to keep him healthy.

Q. A lot of guys that were productive for you. Questionable this week, guy like J.J. Barker, how much more will his role expand?
COACH KILL: Well, I don't think just him. I think the next people that go in have to step it up. I think Andre did some good things in the game. We replaced young with young. And you know, next guy's gotta step up. I mean that's their opportunity.
Again, we have a program right now that is tremendously young, and each valuable playing time any of those kids get are going to help us in the next year, and I guess the best example is is that you look at our defensive side of the football right now and you take eight or ten plays out of the last two games, you know, and we made a couple of mental errors. It wasn't physical errors. It was just plain mental errors on Saturday early in the game. But they still don't have over 300yards offense.
We've improved on defense, but I think probably the reason we have improved is guys like Derrick Wells and some of those kids, Cedric Thompson, those guys got to play some last year. So it's not like they're rookies, and some of our defensive line, those young kids got to play some last year.
So I think we've advanced ourselves on the defensive side of the ball. On the offensive side of the ball, it's just young, all the way around the book. And I think we're kind of where we were a year ago on the defensive side of the ball. We're fighting it a little bit right now. But there is shades ‑‑ you know, there's some guys doing some good things, but we seem to have one person or another breakdown throughout a series of a play, which you can't do in a team sport.
And again, we just gotta keep punching along and get through it. As long as the kids have good attitudes, that's a good thing, and they've got good attitudes right now.

Q. MarQueis getting hurt again, coach, do you maybe become even more cautious about playing him on Saturday and take even more of a long‑term view of it? How do you kind of look at it?
COACH KILL: Well, you know, that's a good question, you know. I mean he was ready to play. We wouldn't have played him Saturday.
We played him receiver before to kind of get him into the game, and we had a package for him playing wide receiver. Then max got dinged up, so we played him in there, and I mean he didn't look like he was playing injured or anything, and he felt good and the trainers felt good.
Just some things happen in sports that you just can't ‑‑ I mean it just happens. So what's our plan? Again, we're not going to play somebody that's 70percent at quarterback, you know. And can he get to 100percent by Saturday. Then all of a sudden you're going to be careful and then you're trying to call plays, and you know, what should we do here and then before long you're defeating your purpose of being aggressive on the offensive side of the ball.
So that's a tough call. I guess that's what we get paid the big dollars for and we'll get it figured out and we got a little time to do it but we certainly won't play him unless he's ready to go, and we'll be smart with it.

Q. It seems going from week to week you'll get somebody back on the offensive line and then another person will go down. Now with Eddie questionable this week how much does that hurt the continuity you've been talking about from week to week?
COACH KILL: I think y'all have been covering football a long time, know football. I think you know the answer to that question. It's difficult when you have a group of five people that have to communicate. You know, we had ‑‑ on one of the snaps we got guys communicating up front, defensive people are communicating. In the game if you put a microphone down inside on the snap of the ball there's a lot of things going on. That's one time we snapped the ball and MarQueis is not ready because of a defensive call is made and our guy thinks it's snap counts, you know. I mean there's a lot of communication going on in between those plays, and if you don't have the correct communication, then you have a breakdown. And so having those same continuity guys, you know, is certainly important, but it's still an excuse. I mean we practice a lot of people every day. So you gotta be able to do that in a game. But northwestern had, you know, with the crowd noise and stuff had a lot of penalties because of the communication.
So the game is about communication offensively and defensively. And if you don't get something communicated to the right people, then it's a problem. And so ‑‑ and people aren't lining up like they used to, whether it's defense or offense in the same formation, the same play, the same ‑‑ everybody's doing stuff different, so you have to communicate. So it is important.

Q. Wisconsin got 200 some yards rushing on Saturday. It looks as though their rushing game has been picked up the last couple games. Can you talk about that?
COACH KILL: What's that now?

Q. The rushing attacks for Wisconsin has been picked up the last couple games. Can you talk about that?
COACH KILL: I think that's just who they are. I think Wisconsin didn't get where they've been over the last, you know, years without having identity, and their identity is running the football. And you know, I don't know what happened early in the year. They made some moves and adjustments and coaching changes and so forth. And I think that they know what they want to do and how they want to do it.
I believe Brett's an offensive line guy background, so I imagine he got in there a little bit, and hey, this is who we're going to be. And they believe in what they do, and they haven't gone away from their plan, and just keep executing that plan and kids start getting better. And they've just improved as a football team and certainly as an offensive football team because they know what they want to do. They weren't going to change, you know. They're going to be who they are. And so they stuck to their plan instead of panicking and going away from what they do, they got harder ‑‑ actually more this is what we're doing, so be it. And they've improved by it and that's a credit to them.

Q. You guys do a better job of stopping the run this week, especially in the first half?
COACH KILL: What's that?

Q. How do you do a better job of stopping the run this week, especially in the first half?
COACH KILL: I think one, we're not going to face a no huddle team unless Wisconsin changes tomorrow, and I think that has to do with more than anything. And we do it like we've gotta play good assignment football and gotta communicate well up front and people gotta get where they're supposed to be. And when we do that we're pretty good on defense. Again, we held an explosive offensive team. We didn't play very well in the first quarter. I think that's more of a concern for us than what you're talking about is we have a turn over, and then they score on the next play and instead of shutting them down defensively and make them kick a field goal, I think that's more of our concern is that when things, something bad happens, that's where one side of the ball or the other has gotta step it up.
But as far as stopping the run game or playing great defense or playing good offense, it comes down to execution. I mean it isn't complicated. You gotta do your job and you gotta fit in the right gap and you gotta do your responsibility and not try to do somebody else's and it's a lot easier said than done because they're trying to do the same things and if they beat you to the punch, they beat you to the spot that you're trying to get at, then they're going to have success. So we just gotta make sure that we're assignment sound and we make sure we fit where needed and when you fit the power it's no different than us running the power on Saturday. Sometimes it hits for eight yards and sometimes it doesn't hit for any and you go, well, why don't they run it more. Well, the defense fit right the first time, didn't fit right the second time. So it's a deal of assignment, discipline, hard‑nosed football that you have to play.

Q. As far as scheduling goes, the decision to not play North Carolina, for you was that something that developed over time?
COACH KILL: I think it developed from when I first came here, what we needed to ‑‑ what we needed to do to move our program forward, and again, I'm not going to ‑‑ right now we've gotta concentrate on Wisconsin. I haven't spent much time on that. That's something that I've spent ‑‑ before I ever ‑‑ philosophy when I took the job and what we needed to do to get our program going and playing at home, I think I've shared that with everybody.

Q. Does it come down to having more talent than the other team?
COACH KILL: I think, again, I think that's an excuse. I think if we don't turn the ball over ‑‑ if we don't turn the ball over two times and we don't have it on the ground seven times and you out rush your opponent ‑‑ or out gain your opponent, you're going to win most of the time. But if you turn the ball over, you're not going to win. That has nothing to do with any talent. I could use that as an excuse. The bottom line is that I'm the head coach. I'm accountable, and we've turned the ball over six times in two games. You ain't going to beat anybody doing that, and that's my responsibility to make sure that doesn't happen. And that to me is the bottom line.
You know, we could be very well sitting here all excited and you don't turn the ball over, you win most of the time, and we did a great job of that the first four ball games and created some turnovers, but the last two games we haven't created any turnovers and we've turned it over, and we've done a lot of other things good, but those two things will kill you. So we haven't got it done in those categories, and I've said all along, you know, we have no margin for error, and that's proven out.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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