Jerry Kill still on leave, but helping out

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 24, 2013 - 6:32 AM

Gophers football coach Jerry Kill isn’t ready to return from the leave of absence he has taken to treat his epilepsy, but in another sign of progress, he attended Wednesday’s practice.

“It’s good being an assistant coach,” Kill said, smiling, as he walked off the field.

Acting head coach Tracy Claeys said Kill has been at the football office each day this week. As he did last Saturday at Northwestern, Kill is expected to watch this week’s game against Nebraska from the press box coaching booth.

“It’s just good to have him around the office,” Claeys said. “It’s not like he’s real active or anything like that, but he’s been around, taking care of some things, visiting with some kids, just getting caught up on some stuff.

“He’s still doing this process, procedure thing. He’s still got to go through what the doctor says. He’s not ready to jump back in yet, but he gets around the office each day, so it’s good to see him.”

Williams injures foot

Gophers running back Rodrick Williams suffered a foot injury late in Tuesday’s practice and wasn’t able to practice Wednesday.

“I don’t think it’s broken, so we’ll have to see how he feels and try to get him some reps [Thursday],” Claeys said.

Williams played on special teams last week but did not receive a carry at tailback, with Claeys saying the sophomore had some growing up to do off the field.

Williams ranks second among Gophers running backs with 332 rushing yards. David Cobb has 477 yards.

Mortell does double duty

Peter Mortell, a redshirt sophomore from Green Bay, Wis., has done wonders for the Gophers special teams this year, both as the punter and holder on field goals and extra points.

Mortell ranks second in the Big Ten in punting, averaging 43.6 yards per punt. And he’s been pretty much flawless as a holder, too.

“Being a holder is kind of a position where you only get recognized if you mess up,” Mortell said. “And I realize that. We have a four-year starter in long snapper Jake Filkins, and that’s an underrated position. Jake’s having a great year and he makes it so much easier for me. I’ve just got to put my hands out, catch it and put it down.”

Etc.

• Mitch Leidner, who was ill earlier this week, was able to practice Wednesday. Claeys said a decision over who will start at quarterback — Leidner or Philip Nelson — would be made Thursday.

• Even with Williams injured, Claeys said there is no scenario where the Gophers would pull a redshirt from true freshman running back Berkley Edwards.

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