Maybe it was just game-week coach-speak. But after a week of analyzing the Gophers, Bo Pelini insisted Monday that he can see a brighter future for Minnesota football.
"They've had some struggles, but at times we've also seen their potential," Pelini said at his weekly news conference. "You take over a program like he did, that was struggling a little bit, you're not going to come out and be dominant in Year 1. It's a process, they understand that."
And it's a process that has been set back, he suspects, by Kill's battle with seizures earlier this year. Kill collapsed on the sidelines on Sept. 10, and experienced additional seizures for another two weeks before being hospitalized again so doctors at Mayo Clinic could bring his condition under control.
"He's been through some things physically, and we all wish him well," Pelini said. "To say that's not going to affect your football team some -- that's difficult. I think they've persevered through it."
Pelini said he has only known Kill by reputation, until meeting him at Big Ten coaches meetings last summer, and found him "a very nice man. A good person -- it's very obvious when you meet him. He's very down to earth, and his record as a head coach speaks for itself."
And though the Huskers are ranked 13th in the nation, and the Gophers have been routed in their only two conference games, Pelini said he expects a good test for his team, a four-touchdown favorite on Saturday. For one thing, since each team is coming off a bye week, he expects the Gophers to have added a few wrinkles that aren't on any tape.
"What you see from this football team is they play hard. They are well-coached. They're aggressive. They do present some problems for you," Pelini said. "Obviously, we have them at their place, where they're going to be excited, they're going to play hard, and they're going to give us their best shot. We'll be challenged up there in Minnesota, there's no question."