By: Aj Mansour (KFAN)
Minneapolis, MN - With a little more than six months of work under their belts, Coach Jerry Kill and the Minnesota Golden Gophers Football team are just about ready to board their planes and head to Southern California to open the 2011 season at USC.
Before closing his doors and kicking into full-time preparation mode, Coach Kill met the media Tuesday and made it clear what his plans are for this season and for this football team.
"Well I expect any time we go into a game, we go to win," Kill said at Tuesday's press conference. "I'm a competitor, and that's how I'm going to approach every game."
The excitement of opening the season and heading to USC has the entire program ready to jump head first into the fire, yet Coach Kill remains calm and approaches the situation from a wise perspective.
Littered among Jerry Kill's past is a reputation that has seen him successfully rebuild football programs that were in shambles. Tuesday afternoon he shed light on the basis of his rebuilding plan in Minnesota.
Resorting back to his biblical knowledge, Coach Kill pulled an adage straight out of Matthew Chapter 7 and the teaching of the "Wise and Foolish Builders."
In the story of the Wise and Foolish Builders, Jesus was telling the stories of two builders who chose two different methods to build. One man chose to build his home on the sand. In choosing the sand, this builder was taking the easy route. With the soft foundation, this man was able to dig out the ground and build his house in a matter of days. Meanwhile, the other builder had chosen to build his home on the rocks. The hard foundation was difficult to crack and made for a much longer, painstaking development process. Later on, when the rains came, the house that was built upon the sand was washed away while the house built on the firm foundation stood strong.
"Right now I feel like we're not going to build a program on sand," Coach Kill preached to members of the media Tuesday. "We're going to build it on concrete."
"There's a lot of things that go into that," Kill continued. "Concrete goes with guys going to class, guys being accountable on and off the field, guys being accountable for their job."
While Kill's method of teaching may support his ideas of building on concrete, another beneficial aspect of the Gophers' team fell right into his lap. Over half of the players on roster with the Gophers this season are underclassmen. The large combination of red-shirted players and new recruits has left coach kill with a very impressionable crowd, a crowd that will be in place for the next few years as Kill continues to build this program on concrete.
Understanding that there will be an adjustment period even for the upperclassmen, Kill told us Tuesday that he understands what needs to happen to get everybody on the same page.
"We’ve [basically] got a whole team full of freshman because they haven’t been through what a different regime is asking of them," Kill said. "Some of them have been on the field, but a lot of them haven’t been. There’s no question that we have to keep things simpler. We can’t be like we were at Northern Illinois. We were at year three there, we’re at year one here. We’ll have to adjust and be much more simplified and work our way towards our goal. We have to adjust to the talent base and the youngsters that we have, try to put them in the best chances to be successful and we’ll go from there."
For Coach Kill, included in putting his players in the best chances to be successful is displaying the patience and discipline of the wise builder. Coach went on to explain that "discipline is not how you wear your hair or do you have an earring. Discipline is doing [the right] kind of things day-to-day, being consistent."
Every time Coach Kill points out a flaw in practice, or tells players to "stay in your lane" or to "keep your feet moving," he strengthens their discipline and makes another chip into that concrete base. With each whistle blown, he is planting the foundation of the team deeper and deeper, fortifying it for battle.
"We have a lot of work to do," Kill reminded on Tuesday. "We’ve got to change a culture and we’ve been working very hard to do that. It does not happen over night, we’re going to try to get better on a day-to-day basis. We’ve got to learn to do the little things before we can think about the big things. We’re taking it one day at a time, one step at a time."
The goal for Coach Kill is that by the time that year two rolls around for him and his staff, the foundation for a winning football team will be firmly planted into the concrete foundation he is laying today. "We'll find out through adversity," Kill said. When the rains come, and you can be sure that they will, Coach Kill's Gophers will be prepared to stand firm, stand united, and stand up to adversity. "That's the way you build a program."
Aj Mansour covers the Twins, Vikings, & Gopher Football for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions on this post or others in the designated comment box below. For Golden Gopher updates and breaking news follow Aj on Twitter @AjMansourKFAN