Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
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Jerry Kill spoke quite a bit at his press conference Tuesday about what went wrong against Wisconsin, and how many mistakes the Gophers have to fix. But he sounded like he was giving a locker-room speech when he ended one answer with:
"We'll get there. We've just got a lot of work to do."
Kill seemed more optimistic than usual, even fiery, and especially more optimistic than you would expect after a dreary 42-13 loss last weekend. In answer to another question, about recruited quarterbacks changing positions, he said, "I've got a pretty good plan. There's a lot of good things going on in our program, where we're headed. Kind of have a plan, a direction where we need to go to be successful. We'll see how it plays out in the spring. I can't talk a lot about all of it because a lot of it deals with recruiting."
Feel free to begin parsing the hints he dropped there -- yes, the Gophers already have verbal commitments from a couple of high school quarterbacks -- but Kill's upbeat tone was consistent throughout the press conference.
Saturday's game, for instance, might have been a lot different had the Brandon Green-to-Eric Lair long pass worked on the Gophers' first drive, Kill said. "It seems like [when] we get off to a [good] start, somebody makes a big play, we feed off it. But boy, when we don't, we struggle," Kill said. Or if MarQueis Gray's pass to John Rabe had not been intercepted in the second quarter? "We run the fake field goal [to] get a score, stop them, get the ball back, we're driving, [and] we got the guy wide open," Kill said. But Wisconsin cornerback Antonio Fenelus stepped in front of a weakly thrown pass, "he picks the ball and swung the game, just like that. If we complete the ball, the momentum shifts."
One other aside from Kill's press conference: He added another hint about the future to a later question about Northwestern. In talking about the Wildcats' fondness for the no-huddle offense, he mentioned his admiration for Oregon's fast pace, and the option attack being utilized by Oklahoma State. "They do a great job [but] it took a year or two," Kill said. "After we go through this thing, one year, when we get done playing, we have to look and look at the direction we need to go here."
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