Hartman: Kill feeling better; expect him back coaching Gophers soon

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 25, 2013 - 12:19 PM

The football coach looked healthier when he stopped by his office, but he first needs to keep obeying his doctors.

When Jerry Kill is healthy, the Gophers football coach and I have a conversation almost every day. He also does a weekly radio appearance on WCCO-AM on Sunday, which he typically does 52 weeks a year.

So while I was at the football office Thursday, I asked one of the coaches if Kill was in. He was.

And there sat Kill behind his desk, looking as chipper as ever while talking to Gophers associate athletic director David Benedict.

So how was Kill, one of my real favorite people?

“I have to work my way through this thing,” he said, speaking about his leave of absence to focus on his treatment for epilepsy. “It’s been tough.”

He will watch Saturday’s game against Nebraska at TCF Bank Stadium from the coaching box, just as he did at Northwestern.

I didn’t think it was appropriate to ask many more questions of the recovering head coach, but he looked great and I think he will surprise everyone and be back coaching soon.

Still, Kill is listening to his doctors and is not going to rush his return. It will be one step at a time.

Peterson likes Ponder

Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson says the Vikings feel comfortable with Christian Ponder under center, because unlike Josh Freeman, who only recently joined the team, he knows the offense.

“Any time you have a guy that’s back there that can run the offense 100 percent and knows it in and out and knows the receivers, guys he has been throwing to for years, it kind of puts things together when you’re talking about being on the same page and it takes away those mental errors as well,” Peterson said.

Peterson was asked about the last time the Vikings faced the Packers at home, a game in which Ponder threw for 234 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Why was he so successful in that game?

“He came out and played with confidence and the guys surrounding him offensively we were all focused in and dialed in on getting a ‘W’ and we were able to be a balanced offense,” Peterson said.

Will it be easier as an offense to have Ponder taking snaps?

“Yeah, you can say that, definitely,” Peterson said. “Just taking last week, it’s obvious with a new quarterback coming in like Freeman that he’s not going to be able to know the full playbook. With Christian, we’re going to be able to pull more out more often. That’s going to help us.”

Peterson, who has been nursing a sore hamstring, also said he expects to get more carries this week after combining for only 90 yards on 23 carries over the past two games.

“Any time you have two games where you have 13 carries or less, you definitely want more touches,” he said. “I just haven’t got in the flow of things. Against Cleveland, the game got out of whack so we had to go away from the run game. But one thing we want to do and focus on is establishing getting those guys up front working and sweating and being able to become more balanced.”

Even though Peterson has seemingly struggled this year, he is still ahead of his unbelievable totals from last season. Peterson has 511 yards rushing and five touchdowns through six games. Last season he had 499 yards and two touchdowns through six games.

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  • Jerry Kill, head coach for the University of Minnesota football team, walks off the field after a home game against the Iowa Hawkeyes in Minneapolis, Minn., Sept. 28, 2013. Kill, who had a seizure and missed the Oct. 5 game at Michigan, has stepped away to focus on treating and managing his epilepsy.(Jenn Ackerman/The New York Times)

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