Jerry Kill will not make the same mistake he did in 2013 as the Gophers head coach.
Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner split time as the Gophers starting quarterback, often replacing one another in the role throughout the game. At the time, platooning may have felt like the right approach, but Kill now admits it was wrong.
“I did it, and I think it hurt us,” Kill told NJ Advance Media. “I’d never done it before.
"We can't get carried away and try to do so many things. Even if we have a loss or something doesn't go your way or you get pounded, you just can't throw everything out the door. Sooner or later you have to stick with something."
Kill finds himself in a similar situation leading up to his first season as Rutgers offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Several qualified candidates are fighting for the starting quarterback job and history argues each might get a chance to prove himself during the season.
Rutgers played four quarterbacks in 2016 before Kill’s arrival and the former Gophers coach rotated Nelson and Leidner before eventually settling on Leidner as his starter late in the 2013 season.
“No, I won't do that," Kill confirmed. "That doesn't mean you won't put somebody in a Wildcat situation, but flipping a guy quarter-to-quarter ain't going to happen. I haven't seen very many teams win playing two guys."
The Gophers finished the 2013 season 8-5 and on a three-game losing streak.
Kill used two quarterbacks at Northern Illinois in 2010, with the backup taking snaps in Wildcat situations. Kill considered using Leidner in a similar way during the 2013 season, but Nelson’s hamstring injury and inability to establish himself as the starter opened the door for Leidner to share the starting role.
Kill at the time said, “We don’t have a big quarterback controversy. We’ve got a darn sophomore quarterback [Nelson] and a freshman [Leidner], and they’re both good players, and they’re both learning on the job a little bit. So that’s where we’re at with all that.”
Kill was learning on the job, too, and will make sure he does not make the same mistake at Rutgers this season.
"In camp, with me and a quarterback, it really comes down to one who understands the system, one who the team is going to follow, one who can get us in the right plays," Kill said, "a guy who is not going to turn the ball over ... and a guy who is going to move the chains.
"If we have a guy turning the ball over, we're not going to be able to play. If you look at last year here – or you look across the board in football – we can't afford to help anybody. Same thing when I went to Minnesota. The turnover thing will be huge in camp."