With latest Kill seizure, U keeps on keeping on

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 24, 2012 - 11:01 PM

Having been down this road before, the Gophers took coach Jerry Kill's latest midgame seizure in stride.

When Gophers coach Jerry Kill suffered his latest seizure, shortly before Saturday's second half, he was back in the locker room, while his players gathered by the tunnel leading to the field at TCF Bank Stadium.

"Actually, I had no idea he wasn't on the sideline for the longest [time], until one of the players pointed it out," senior MarQueis Gray said. "I had no idea what happened to him."

Gray said he "put two and two together" when Jay Sawvel, who coaches defensive backs and special teams, gathered the team for a quick pep talk.

The players hardly panicked. They had been through this before with Kill. And for the seniors, not having the head coach on the sideline for the second half of their final home game was just another twist in a corkscrew of a college career.

This is a group that has been through Tim Brewster's firing, the death of linebacker Gary Tinsley and receiver A.J. Barker's very public departure from the program last week.

"We all love each other," senior cornerback Michael Carter said. "I love Coach Kill, and I know he has love for me. So of course we worry, but at the same time, we know what he wants, and he wants a win.

"We just tried to go out there and give him a win."

It didn't work. With Kill recovering in the coaches' room, the Gophers continued sputtering on offense and let Le'Veon Bell reach 266 yards rushing. Leading 13-7 at halftime, the Spartans pulled away for a 26-10 victory.

"Whether Coach Kill is out there or not, our job's not going to change," said senior defensive end D.L. Wilhite. "The calls don't change, and the team we're playing doesn't change. So we just try to attack it just like nothing even happened, and I don't think too many guys had that on their mind."

With time winding down in the third quarter, and the Gophers trailing just 16-10, Michigan State's Andre Sims Jr., returned a punt to the 7-yard line. But once again, the defense held firm, forcing another field goal.

Wilhite had a key sack in that series, chasing down Aaron Maxwell at the sideline for a 6-yard loss. Wilhite now has 8 1/2 sacks for the season, the seventh-highest total in Gophers history.

Carter had another good game, too, finishing with eight tackles. And Gray continued to show his versatility, mixing in plays at both quarterback and receiver.

"The seniors have been through a lot on this team," Gray said. "And that's something we have to be able to overcome, and let the younger guys know that things happen in football -- and you've got to be able to overcome them."

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