Disgusting Win
September 19, 2015

The actions of University of Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill in the span of seven days ran from denial to paranoia as his football team blundered to victories over non-conference foes Colorado State (away) and Kent State (at home).

Neither win was notably impressive, and both saw the color rise in Kill’s already-ruddy complexion. An overtime win in Fort Collins was followed by a shaky 10-7 triumph over the lowly Kent State Golden Flashes.

After initially denying that the high altitude influenced the play of his team, he spent the rest of the week back-tracking and eventually admitted that both altitude and heat took their toll on Gopher health and resiliency. This was no surprise to those in attendance who observed the team wilt in the latter stages of the Colorado State contest. Only a costly fumble allowed Minnesota to triumph in overtime.

Earlier, Minnesota failed to convert third-down opportunities on 12 of 16 opportunities. With the score knotted at 20 at the end of regulation, the Gophers won the overtime coin toss and appropriately went on defense. On CSU’s first play from scrimmage, Dalyn Dawkins fumbled the ball, setting up the winning Ryan Santoso field goal.

The otherwise respectable win in Fort Collins was followed by the clunker victory over Kent State before a crowd generously announced at 52,823 at TCF Bank Stadium. Once again, it was the toe of Ryan Santoso that provided the margin of victory. It should be noted that when another Big Ten opponent (Illinois) earlier faced the Golden Flashes, the outcome was 52-3 for the Fighting Illini.

To say that coach Kill was flustered after a 10-7 win would be an understatement. In a confused and confusing press conference, Kill refused comment on the erratic play of sophomore quarterback Mitch Leidner (he was asked three times).

“We have to get better one way or the other,” he sputtered, noting that the line blocking in front of Leidner failed to provide protection. “We haven’t had consistency in our offensive line,” he said, pointing to recent injuries. “We didn’t handle it very well up front. Physically, I thought we got it handed to us, the way I look at it.”

Then things got weird. “I probably deserve to be fired today,” Kill blurted. “I don’t have a magical answer right now but I better get it, or I don’t deserve to be here.”

Kill then reacted with a meltdown to a question concerning the boos emanating from the crowd. “They were probably booing me,” he wailed. “Last time they booed someone they fired him, so maybe I need to get fired tomorrow, I don’t know. We don’t have an AD, so I can’t get fired tomorrow,

“They [the fans] probably deserve to boo me,” he rambled on, indicating this was grounds for his dismissal. “Is that good enough for you? I’m just asking. You can put that in the [St. Paul] Pioneer Press. I have no problem.

“I mean I’ll get 105 e-mails when I walk out of here that I should be fired. So I don’t know where my wife is, but if I get fired tomorrow, I’ve got a lake house, so I’ll leave it at that.

“But we did win the game.” He then made a quick exit.

Defensively, the Gophers played well in both games, but wound up sucking wind in Colorado after taking a 20-17 lead on a Leidner touchdown pass to K.J. Maye. The Rams subsequently marched down the field and tied the score on a Wyatt Bryan field goal. Against Kent State, the Gopher defense was splendid. Only an 80-yard fumble return by Demetrius Monday spoiled the day. A 14-yard touchdown pass from Leidner to Maye plus a 42-yard field goal by Santoso was made to hold up.

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