Kill expects Gophers football to be better in his fourth season

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 10, 2014 - 1:04 AM

The U’s win total has gone from three to five to eight under coach Jerry Kill.

hide

Minnesota Gophers vs. Syracuse Orange in Texas Bowl. Syracuse won 21-17. Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill looked a bit disgruntled as he paced the sideline late in the game. (MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

With a disappointing loss to Syracuse in the Texas Bowl fresh in their minds, Gophers football coach Jerry Kill and his assistants have spent recent days evaluating the 2013 season, searching for ways to improve this fall.

“We think we’ll be better,” Kill said Thursday. “I said that last year, and we were better [in 2013], and I think we’ll be better this year.”

Kill said the schedule will be tougher. Besides moving to the Big Ten West — along with Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin — the Gophers play crossover games against Ohio State and Michigan, and a nonconference game at Texas Christian.

The Gophers have improved from 3-9 to 6-7 to 8-5 in Kill’s first three seasons.

“I’m not one that guarantees [a number of wins], but we’ll be better,” Kill said. “But our offseason’s got to be better, and our approach has got to be better. You’ve got to work harder.”

Still mum on QBs

Kill declined to discuss the team’s quarterback pecking order. Philip Nelson started nine games, including the final five, but struggled in the bowl loss before Mitch Leidner tossed two fourth-quarter touchdown passes.

“Our players, they need to come back [from winter break], and they need to be starving,” Kill said. “And I think they will be. You always want to talk about quarterbacks — they need to be starving. Somebody needs to [say], ‘Let’s go!’ ”

Kill also said, “We’ve got young quarterbacks, but the kid at Oklahoma [redshirt freshman Trevor Knight] — he’s a great example. He struggled and struggled and had a great bowl game, turned the corner. That’s what we need to do.”

Injury report

Kill is relieved that tight end Maxx Williams won’t need surgery after injuring his left knee in the last minute of the Syracuse game.

Among players scheduled for offseason surgery: cornerback Derrick Wells (shoulder), wide receiver KJ Maye (groin), tackle Jonah Pirsig (hand), tight end Alex Bisch (ankle), fullback Tyler Hartmann (shoulder).

Cornerback Briean-Boddy Calhoun (knee surgery) will be ready for spring practice, but Kill said the team will be careful with him.

Center Jon Christenson (broken leg) is doing well with his rehab but won’t participate in spring practice.

Center Matt Leidner (quarterback Mitch Leidner’s younger brother) has a foot injury but should be ready for spring practice.

Spring practice moved

One early change in 2014 will come with spring practice. Camp opens March 4, with the spring game on April 12. Last year, it opened March 26, with the spring game on April 27.

This year, the team will hold two weeks of camp before spring break (March 17-21) and three weeks after the break. Kill said that will help simulate a bye week; there are two of those again this fall. And it will be a chance to test the players’ intensity after an elongated break, something teams deal with during bowl season.

The main benefit, Kill said, is that players will have two long strength-and-conditioning windows — one before and another after spring practice — as opposed to one.

Early enrollees coming

Two players from the 2014 recruiting class are scheduled to begin classes at the university this month, allowing them to compete in spring practice.

They are linebacker Cody Poock, a transfer from Iowa Western Community College, and quarterback Dimonic McKinzy from Kansas City (Mo.) Wyandotte High School.

McKinzy, who committed last spring, will be the fourth quarterback to enroll early at Minnesota under Kill.

Nelson and Mitch Leidner did that in 2012, and Chris Streveler did it last year before redshirting.

Streveler, of Crystal Lake, Ill., had hand surgery during the season but should be ready for spring practice.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - C. Kershaw 1:20 PM
Chicago Cubs - E. Jackson
Boston - A. Webster 6:05 PM
Baltimore - K. Gausman
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - J. Locke
Toronto - M. Buehrle 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - H. Kuroda
Washington - D. Fister 6:10 PM
Miami - T. Koehler
Chicago WSox - J. Quintana 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Hellickson
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler 6:35 PM
Atlanta - J. Teheran
Cleveland - T. Bauer 7:10 PM
Minnesota - P. Hughes
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Vargas
Seattle - T. Walker 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Arizona - C. Anderson 7:10 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Cincinnati - D. Holmberg 7:15 PM
St. Louis - J. Lackey
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan 8:35 PM
Oakland - J. Lester
Texas - L. Bonilla 9:05 PM
LA Angels - H. Santiago
San Francisco - T. Hudson 9:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
Tampa Bay 14 FINAL
Atlanta 56
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Colorado 9:00 PM
Real Salt Lake
Toronto 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

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.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close