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Continued: Behind the scenes, Gophers assistants play important roles

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 21, 2013 - 12:22 AM

The Gophers had Chris Hawthorne kick extra points following the next two touchdowns, as they pulled away to win 29-12.

‘Manager of a team’

Not every game turns into a 17-point victory, of course. The closer the score, the more decisions a head coach needs to make. The game’s final two minutes can include a slew of clock-management decisions that set up coaches for plenty of second-guessing.

“I think a head football coach in this day and age, you’re a manager of a team,” Kill said. “I called offensive plays for a long time [earlier in his career], but you’ve got so many demands, you’ve got to trust your people.

“Anybody at any level does most of their coaching during the week. You prepare your game plan, and you adjust during the game.

“But a lot of coaches like to pat themselves on the back. There’s not as many adjustments as you think. You’re going to go with what you know and what you do.”

Gophers players Ra’Shede Hageman, Mitch Leidner and Brock Vereen all said this week that they typically have little one-on-one interaction with Kill during games. Players report to their position coaches after each series, and that’s where most of the instruction gets done.

Kill gives the team a pregame pep talk, barks out encouragement at halftime and assembles the team again for a postgame speech. The players missed his presence last week, but they were hardly lost without him.

In fact, the Gophers played better in the second half, after the seizure, than they did in the first half.

None of this, though, suggests Kill plays an insignificant role. He just doesn’t normally do as much as one might think during the three hours when everyone is watching.

“He’s like a second father to some of us,” Vereen said. “He’s the best thing that’s happened to this program in years.”

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