Hartman: University president Kaler always believed Kill could get job done

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 27, 2013 - 12:13 AM
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University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler

Photo: Leah Millis, Star Tribune

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As the seconds ticked off on the scoreboard at TCF Stadium, the end of the Gophers football team’s unexpected 34-23 victory over No. 25 Nebraska on Saturday, there was a tap on my shoulder in my press box seat at TCF Bank Stadium.

Turning around I found it was the University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, who was very excited about the fact that the Gophers had won two Big Ten games in a row since the end of the 2010 season, when they beat Illinois and Iowa under interim coach Jeff Horton.

After that season, Kaler was involved in the hiring of Jerry Kill and his staff, and he said the Gophers are in good hands and that more victories are ahead for the young group of football players.

At every other place where Kill has coached, he has taken over a rundown football program and turned it around to win by its third year.

This is Kill’s third year, and after successive losses to Iowa and Michigan, it didn’t appear there was any chance of that happening here.

But now after qualifying for a second consecutive bowl appearance, you think anything could happen with this team if it plays like it did against Northwestern and Nebraska the past two weeks.

The Gophers had lost 16 in a row to the Cornhuskers, last won in 1960, and Saturday they beat a team that had lost only once all year, to UCLA. After falling behind 10-0, the Gophers got going against Nebraska the way UCLA did in winning 41-21 after trailing 21-3 in the second quarter.

Acting coach Tracy Claeys talked about how tremendous the mood of the team was.

“Not one time did you think that the kids panicked,” Claeys said. “They all stayed in there together. It’s all about confidence. I couldn’t be prouder of them. We’ve gotten better in the weight room, our academics are better. Those kids are up there till 10 o’clock at night doing study halls and tutors. They’re putting in a hell of a lot of time right now, and it’s good to see them get rewarded for all the hard work they’re putting in.”

Now they have to win at Indiana next week to keep building up the excitement.

Ponder ready for chance

The last time Christian Ponder suited up against the Green Bay Packers, he played his best game of the 2012 season, capping off an extremely effective four-game stretch in which he helped the Vikings into the playoffs.

Now, he will get another chance to try and turn a Vikings season around and prove that he can be the player the team saw at the end of last year, when facing Green Bay he completed 16 of 28 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns, posting a 120.2 QB rating that stands as the best of his career.

Still it’s interesting to note that if it wasn’t for the concussion suffered by Josh Freeman on Monday night, Ponder likely wouldn’t be in this position.

With that in mind, Ponder was asked how he felt when the 2011 first-round pick got the news that he would get another shot to start.

“I was excited,” he said. “You know it’s an opportunity for me to get out there and get this job back and we’re playing a rivalry game against the Packers at home. I’m really looking forward to it, and it’s a way for me to get this job back.

“We want to get back on track. We don’t like our record right now and we know it’s going to be a tough game, but I think just from the attitude of the guys this week, everyone is understanding that we have a sense of urgency that we need to win, and we need to start now.”

Ponder also said the offense should be able to have a more diverse playbook this week compared to last week against the Giants. “[Freeman] was put in a tough situation and a difficult situation, but we do have a little bit more in this week,” Ponder said.

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  • Under a partly cloudy fall sky, Gophers fans rushed the field following their team’s 34-23 victory over 25th-ranked Nebraska on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium. The victory was the Gophers’ first against a ranked opponent in their three seasons under the tutelage of Jerry Kill, a coach in whom university President Eric Kaler has a lot of faith.

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 30 3rd Qtr 7:20
Dallas 10
Seattle 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Nashville
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 69 2nd Half 8:36
Indiana State 44
Cal State Fullerton 26 1st Half 3:48
Wright State 29
Western Ky 12 1st Half 10:27
Saint Josephs 8
Michigan State 10 1st Half 15:11
Rider 6
UCLA 6:00 PM
North Carolina
Marquette 7:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Long Beach State 7:30 PM
Western Mich
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Florida
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Mercer
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Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
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SMU
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Bowling Green
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Massachusetts
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(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
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Boston College
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Troy
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Colorado
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(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
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(1) Florida State
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Maryland
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Vanderbilt
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(11) Kansas State
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(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
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Washington St
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UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 43 1st Half 0:36
BYU-Hawaii 25
Charlotte 26 1st Half 2:02
Montana 26
Illinois 23 1st Half 5:06
(9) Kentucky 30
Central Michigan 7:00 PM
Richmond
Oklahoma 7:15 PM
South Florida
Princeton 7:30 PM
Wake Forest
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pm

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