Gophers coach Jerry Kill isn't the kind of guy to miss work, so his presence on the sidelines Saturday a week after suffering a violent seizure was more expected than shocking.
Even if the last image most had of the first-year coach -- before he led his team to a 29-23 victory Saturday over Miami (Ohio), the first win of his Minnesota tenure -- was that of a man convulsing on the ground in the closing seconds of a 28-21 loss to New Mexico State a week earlier.
"I was fortunate to coach. The good Lord's been good to me and gave me an opportunity and I'm just glad to be there with our coaches," he said after Saturday's game.
Kill spent five nights in the hospital before returning to practice Thursday. Fans chanted his name as feverishly after his first Gophers' win as they did when he was carried off the field on a stretcher in the New Mexico State game. The fiery 50-year-old was understandably subdued throughout his return.
His position coaches commanded the majority of the huddles, while he stood in the background. The system he's constructed with a group of assistants who have been with him at three different schools can function even when the head coach isn't 100 percent.
"I put in my 2 cents if there was something that was important. I spent some time on some other things," he said. "I can't explain our continuity. It's just, we've been together so long."
Kill said he had more seizures at the hospital and warned players that he could have additional challenges in the future. Dr. Pat Smith, the team's physician, stood near Kill Saturday. Student managers carrying water bottles stayed close, too.
Smith said dehydration and stress may have contributed to Kill's seizure during the New Mexico State game. He vowed to monitor Kill more closely.
"I did OK. [Dr. Smith] wore me out with that water," Kill said. "I felt like I drank a ton of water. If he gave me much more water, I believe I'd have body cramps from drinking too much water. He did a good job of taking care of me. I did all right once I got into the game. ... I struggled before the game."
The problem with trying to restrain a coach like Kill, however, is that the calm demeanor can't last forever.
Kill disagreed with an official's call on Erik Finklea's 1-yard touchdown run with 19 seconds remaining in the first half, walked onto the field for a chat and subsequently matched the official stride-for-stride for 30 yards up the sidelines, giving him a piece of his mind the entire time.
When freshman offensive lineman Tommy Olson nearly botched a kick return to open the second half, Kill appeared to briefly scold him.
The sidelines erupted when the Gophers blocked a punt and found the end zone in the fourth quarter.Kill's enthusiasm was shortlived.
He yanked off his headset and stormed onto the field when the Gophers missed the ensuing extra point.
"I worried about [possible seizures] for about five minutes going out to pregame and once I got to chewing on the punter about something, then I was just fine," he said.
Those demonstrative moments were rare -- at least by Kill's previous standards. But it's hard to believe that Kill will remain as calm as he was for most of Saturday.
"I got a second chance and I ain't takin' no shortcuts and I'm not gonna have somebody tell me I can't do something," he said.