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Gophers Jerry Kill Previews Saturday's Game At Illinois

11/06/2012, 5:45pm CST
By U of M Athletic Communications

A Gophers win Saturday and Jerry Kill will take his program to a bowl game for the first time in his tenure at the U.

Coach Kill met with the media today to preview this weekend's game at Illinois.

On the health of his team...

"A.J. Barker will not practice, and I really question whether he'll play or not. So that seems to be a little bit more of an issue than I think they thought at the beginning.
   
I'm hoping that Eddie Olson is available. We're going to practice him a little bit today. We're going to be in full pads and see how he moves with that, but I think the biggest question mark for us from an offensive standpoint would be A.J.
   
Derrick Wells, I was excited that, you know, is going to be able to practice today, which is good for us. And but other than that, with what we've had in the past, A.J. is the biggest concern, and I just don't unless some a miracle takes place, so to speak, I don't look for him to be able to play on Saturday."

On where his team is...
"I've said all along, sometimes when you first take a program over, they're usually open because there's a reason for it. There's a struggle there. And your first year is you're just not very good. The second and third year and you hope you can move it quickly, is that you win some games, but then you're close in a lot of games that you don't win because you're not quite good enough to get over that hump, and I'd like to see us be able to get over that hump a little bit.

I thought we took a jump at the end of the year last year, down the last three game stretch, so to speak. I'd like to see us keep moving forward with it."

What do you know of Illinois?
"Well, they're athletic. I said a year ago, they take the field, they got some good looking kids now. They're good looking up front and great defensive ends and they run well, and an active quarterback, which we've seen

We gotta keep rush lanes and keep the quarterback inside the pocket and not let him get outside and run around and be able to make a play. And he's that type of youngster that can do that and he runs the ball very well. So any time you have an athletic quarterback, you gotta spend a lot of time on discipline, pass rush lanes and things of that nature."

On the decision to play true freshman Rodrick Williams...
"We definitely knew Rodrick had some talent. When he showed up he was about 215, 218. Now I think he's 238. So he's kind of grown through the summer, and I always worried about, and I'd say this with Rodrick was what his maturity was going to be, with school, all the things that comes with it; is he going to be ready for that. So we just didn't immediately do it.
   
Plus he'd gotten hurt a little bit in camp and missed two or three practices in there, and the learning curve, you know. So that happened a little bit with some kids.  So then you go, well, that gives you a reason, you know, to not use them. And then as the season went on, he kept again, we were practicing a lot of kids right now because we have a young team, and he kept getting better and better. And he's got a little pop to him. I think when you see him run, when he hits you, there's something different about I mean he just knocks you backwards."

On is Isaac Fruechte will replace Barker's role...
"I think him and Tufts both, they're both long and can run. But we have a whole group of them that we gotta keep working with them, but I'd like to see those guys step up a little bit. I think it's important for us."

On coaching against Tim Beckham before...
"We coached against each other. And you know, there's a lot ... seems like even all through the history there's been a lot of coaches come from the MAC to the Big 10, and he's another one that has. And got a great deal of respect.
   
We hooked it up pretty good. Toledo is pretty good, both Toledo and Northern Illinois are both pretty darn good. He did a good job there and coached good athletes and disciplined program and so forth. So got a lot of respect. But we're excited about going down to play."

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