Gophers continue football transformation - KMSP-TV

Gophers continue football transformation

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If Gophers football coach Jerry Kill walked up to me and told me he had prime land for sale in the Florida Everglades, I'd buy. Fortunately for me he doesn't. What he does have is a direction for his 2-0 football team that makes sense. Are you supposed to beat a New Hampshire by 37 points at home?

Absolutely, but the reality of the current state of the program is that there are no sure things when it comes to wins. Following the team's opening game triple overtime win over UNLV, the team put together their best overall game in years. The win over New Hampshire left everyone involved excited about the prospects of the main college team in the state.

"We had a good atmosphere and I think the kids played hard," said Kill following the win over UNH. "We still have much work to do, but we're kind of like this new stadium right now. It was built brick by brick and that's kind of what we're trying to do with our football program. I do think we're headed in the right direction."

Strength and Conditioning:
Kill gives head strength and conditioning coach Eric Klein much of the credit for the quick change of the mindset of Gopher football.

"People have tried to hire him away. He's been loyal to me," said Kill. "We're still not where we need to be. If we continue to work in the weight room and the strength program, we'll continue to improve."

Winning:
Last season the team didn't pick up their second win until the end of October. This is a completely different team and with the physical changes comes the mental part of the game. It is true that sometimes in order to learn how to win, you first need to lose.

"A win is a win," said Kill. "I've been on the other side of it where I've been a I-AA football coach and I've gone into places and won. I always wondered what it felt like. Well I got a taste of it a year ago."

Building Depth:
The team is young with only 14 seniors on the roster. Good for the future, but there is plenty of on the job training for the young guys.

"We're trying to build a program here and build some depth," said Kill. "We've had to play some young people before their time. The only way they can get experience is to throw them out there and see what they can do."

A stickler for details:
Kill is a stickler for getting it right in all aspects of the game. Preparation as well as watching film to correct mistakes especially following a win is going to make this program better.
"The film never lies. I always tell our coaches and they won't be very excited with me tomorrow, but when you win, that's when you analyze film," said Kill. "That's when you coach. You better make them be perfect. That's how you get better."

Atmosphere at "The Bank":
Kill is the first to admit it takes a state to support this program. He's also the first to say that the product on the field needs to improve and the results will capture the imagination of the fans. The game day atmosphere at the new stadium is better than any other sports vibe in town. Eventually when the wins start coming, so will the big time atmosphere inside the stadium.

"I've always thought about it as it's the community and the state," said Kill. "I don't care where it's at. You aren't going to win with the coaching staff and a couple of people here and there. It's going to take a state wide support. You have to have that. It's a mentality and some of the people we're playing in the Big 10 have that mentality. We're trying to develop that."

Only 14 games into his tenure as head coach and Kill has created a different atmosphere on and off the field. Whether that ultimately means a move to the upper echelon of the conference and a bigger bowl game will play out over time. What is known now is that if "Gopher Nation" returns to Pasadena, it will be because the head coach built the program the right way.

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