After choosing not to address Jerry Kill’s seizure following the Western Illinois game on Saturday, athletic director Norwood Teague conducted a press conference Monday morning at TCF Bank Stadium. Teague squashed all rumors of any second guessing of Kill’s status following his fourth in-game seizure in three years at the University of Minnesota.
I support him 100 percent .. He’s an epileptic. He has seizures. We deal with it, and we move on. If I felt like it was affecting things, it would be different.
Kill returned to his home two hours after the game ended according to reports. He’s not expected to miss any time and all signs point to him coaching on the sidelines on Saturday against San Jose State.
As for the Gophers in their matchup against Western Illinois, the team was sluggish early, trailing 12-7 at one point in the third quarter after a touchdown pass from Trenton Norvell to Lance Lenoir. Minnesota got it together at the end, however, scoring 21 unanswered points on three rushing touchdowns to close the game and cap a 29-12 victory.
FIVE THINGS I LIKED:
1. David Cobb: Cobb has all the physical tools to be a special back. He’s 5-foot-11, 225 lbs and has burst. He was a non-factor last year rushing once for eight yards. This year, he’s rushed 28 times for 207 yards and three touchdowns. If you don’t have a calculator handy, he’s averaging 7.4 yards per carry.
2. Depth at running back: Rodrick Williams Jr. is a physical specimen in his own right at 5-foot-11 and 235 lbs. He doesn’t have the speed or burst of Cobb, but he is strong and powerful and has almost identical stats to Cobb, rushing 30 times for 217 yards and three touchdowns. That’s 7.2 yards per carry. Williams Jr. and Cobb aren’t even the top two backs on the depth chart (No. 3 and 4, respectively). The top two backs, Donnell Kirkwood and Berkley Edwards, are both nursing ankle injuries but could return at any week. Kirkwood is expected back this week against San Jose State and Edwards is expected back for the Iowa game in two weeks. The Gophers should have four capable backs for Big Ten season. That’s a nice luxury to have.
3. Maxx Williams: Williams continues to get better with each game. On Saturday, he caught two passes for 52 yards and one of those catches was a brilliant catch and run in which he threw a devastating stiff arm that was SportsCenter worthy. Maxx has been the most impressive player on the field in the last two games. The more touches the Gophers can get him, the better.
4. Ra’Shede Hageman: Big Shede was his usual self. At one point in the fourth quarter, he lost his helmet while shedding a double team and still managed to sack the quarterback. He tallied six tackles against Western Illinois, which tied for the team lead, along with two tackles for a loss, and one sack. He also blocked an extra point attempt.
5. Theiren Cockran: If Ra’Shede Hageman is Batman then Theiren Cockran is Robin. Cockran has incredible speed off the edge and gets single teamed because of Hageman. This is the Gophers best defensive line in years.
FIVE THINGS I DISLIKED:
1. Offensive play calling: Look, maybe we don’t have quarterbacks that can throw the ball very well and receivers who can’t get open and make plays. I can understand if that’s the case, but can’t we try to open up the passing game just a bit and see what we have? How many times did Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner run into the line of scrimmage on a quarterback draw? Those plays usually got only about three or four yards and left them vulnerable to injury.
2. Offensive line: I thought this was going to be a position of strength. So far it’s been a position of mediocrity. The Olson brothers can’t stay healthy and the depth hasn’t been what we thought it would be. The line gave up three sacks which is inexcusable against an FCS team.
3. Beer garden line at halftime: The attendance was a far cry from max capacity at 42,127 attendees. Except that didn’t translate into a shorter line at the beer tents. I got up to get a beer at the end of the first half and didn’t get back to my seat until after the second half kickoff.
4. The start of the game: At one point in the second half, just after the Leathernecks scored a touchdown to take a 12-7 lead, I turned to my brother-in-law and said: “Okay, I just hope we can pull out the Win now.” Admittingly, I was nervous early in the game. We couldn’t run the ball effectively and we let a very small Western Illinois running back in J.C. Baker gash us on the opening touchdown drive.
5. Finding out Kill suffered a seizure: I was checking Twitter while standing in line for half an hour for beer when I found out about Coach Kill. It made me look at the game in perspective, knowing that Kill’s health is a heck of a lot more important than the outcome of a football game. The disappointing part was finding out a man that has been battling epilepsy with all his heart is still vulnerable to seizures. On a side note, Coach Kill has a great doctor, wife, boss, and group of players that love him very much and will stay by his side and do anything in their power to keep Coach Kill healthy.