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July 26, 2012

Jerry Kill


THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by Head Coach Jerry Kill.
COACH KILL:  We appreciate the opportunity to be here today and certainly feel much more comfortable than I did a year ago being it was my first year here.  So going into our second year here at Minnesota, we're excited about our program, which I imagine all the coaches are throughout the country at this time of year.  But I certainly feel like we've taken great strides in our program.  Our kids, from the day we ended up our last game of the season to now, I think are excited about where they're at.
We've added about 36 new players on our football team.  I think we're in a huge transition but a positive one, and our kids have been through some adversity, some tragedy through the past year.  I think it's brought us closer together.
They've handled things very well and worked very hard.  I think we're a bigger, stronger, faster team than we were a year ago, and we're looking forward to seeing what we can do on Saturday.

Q.  Could you talk a little bit about your offensive line, the Olsons and Jonah Persig, and what you hope to see out of them this year and what kind of improvement?
COACH KILL:  Well, I think we had a very young football team.  We only have ten seniors.  But we played eight offensive linemen last year.  I would say per person, we've put on probably 15 to 20 pounds in the offseason.
Eddie's a great example.  I think he weighs about 315, 318 right now.  So I think that group's a lot more confident about their strength level and where they're at in getting ready for our season.
But we look to be much improved from a year ago.  I think we've added depth to that, and we're very optimistic about how they'll perform next year.

Q.¬† First of all, health‑wise, how are you feeling?
COACH KILL:  I'm doing fantastic.  I appreciate you asking.

Q.¬† Last year when you went down, your players really rallied behind you.¬† Especially being a first‑year coach, pretty amazing the way they did it so fast.¬† Would you just talk about the chemistry on your team.¬† I think that stood out more than the wins and losses last year.
COACH KILL:  Well, I think anything, I think when adversity hits, you have to deal with it.  You can't run away from it.  We've had a fair share.
I was through my first year from a change in athletic director, basically was hired by two presidents, having the situation I had on the field.  Gary Tinsley passing away, we've had our fair share of adversity.  But to be honest with you, sometimes tragic events bring you closer together and you find out who you are.
And I think we found out a lot about who we were as a football team, as the kids, and as a coaching staff.  Our coaching staff's been together a long time.  Been through a lot of things together.  And so I think that's why we're excited.  I think we've seen a group of kids that really want to be at the University of Minnesota.  We've added some kids to it.  And we're enjoying the process.
We've been through this before at other places, and we really feel like that we're jump‑started and moving forward in our program and certainly feel we'll be better than we were a year ago and feel better about where we're at.

Q.  Could you describe how you plan to use MarQueis Gray differently this year given that he spent so much of his season running last season?
COACH KILL:  I think using MarQueis, and what a better way, is we're certainly going to use his abilities, but I think he's come a long way.  I think that he'll be a very, very exciting football player to watch, not only in the Big Ten but throughout the country.  I think he's done a great job in the spring.
I think our big deal was we need to get people around him.  We've got to get receivers and running backs and people that can step up and make plays.  We've worked hard in recruiting to do that.
Some of the kids that we had a year ago again are a year older and they have to step up and make some plays but we felt like some of those young people did that in the spring.
And I think MarQueis, playing quarterback after one year, he's improved so much, I think the most important thing to our football team is what the people around him do.  And they've worked hard, and again, I look for him to have a very good year this year.

Q.  How have you and your staff reacted to the sudden availability of Penn State players given what happened at Penn State?
COACH KILL:¬† Well, I think with our staff‑‑ and everybody has a different philosophy.¬† Unfortunately, I was in Division II when Wichita State dropped their program and was part of something like that.¬† And I think right now, at the University of Minnesota, we're concentrating on building a program.¬† We've got enough problems of our own trying to move forward.
So we're not going to do anything to go see players.  We don't have enough time to do those kind of things.  We've got to concentrate on our football team and our football program.  And if a young man called us from Penn State or whatever, we'd do the proper procedures.
But right now we've got enough problems and focus on what we need to do to become a football team and that's where our focus is.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.

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