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What they’re saying: Jerry Kill on EMU

November 24, 2010

In his Monday press conference, Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill had several things to say about EMU.

His first comments had to do with Ron English and the Eagles’ toughness as a team.

[The Huskies game against Ball State] was a good win, a good win for our program and now we have to march on to a short week and get ready for Friday’s game against an Eastern Michigan team that is a totally different team than what they were a year ago. I think Coach Ron English has done a great job. They play very physical, very hard, and you can tell he’s putting his stamp on things. We have to get ready to play and continue to get better.

Anytime you’re a coach, it’s no different than when I first got here, and you go into a new program, it takes you awhile to get what you want philosophy-wise and those kind of things. I know [Ron English’s] personality and I respect him very much. I know he was very good to me throughout this particular year. It’s one of those things where he’s a hard-nosed, tough guy. His defense right now is going run and chase the ball. They’re physical. They’re going to get after you. Offensively, they’re utilizing their quarterback, who is their best player, and their running back, and holding on to the ball and making it tough on you by keeping the offense on the boundary. Then they’re very good in the kicking game. The big thing is that I always judge people by how they play on film and how hard they play. They’re a physical group. That’s no disrespect to Ball State, but this will be a more physical game.

I don’t think he’s stretching here the way Jim Tressel had to earlier this year. Of course, the Huskies aren’t the Buckeyes, but everything he said there was legitimate: EMU is turning into a tough, physical team that plays ball control football. Not unlike Northern Illinois.

Next, Kill had some comments about Northern Illinois’ motivation for a “meaningless” game, and whether he’d be resting the starters.

We’re not pro football, we’re college football and you have to play each week and get better. We have a tremendous amount to play for right now, and we’re not going to change our preparation except for we’re on a short week. We’re going to prepare as hard, work as hard, and get this team ready to play Eastern Michigan just like we have every week because it gives us an opportunity for us to win 10 games in a regular season. That would be a tremendous accomplishment for those guys that have been in that locker room, certainly, those seniors who when they took the job were 2-10. I think we have to continue to move our program along and to do that we need to go up and play well…

The big thing is that I laid out for our program is who you want to be, where you want to go, talked to our kids last night in the team meeting is that you have a chance to win 10 games, that’s a tremendous thing. I think there are only 19 teams in the country that still have a chance to do that…I think we’re the only one in the country that’s only played five home games and has an opportunity to do it. There are a lot of things; you want to go in with momentum going into the next game, you want to be playing your best football. There are way too many things for us to play for us to not go play well. If our aspirations are going to want to be a really good program, then we have to go each week and take care of business. The best example I can give you right now is Boise State goes out and takes care of business. It doesn’t matter when they’re playing or what week it is, they take care of business; the TCU’s of the world. If we want to be a good football program, be a good football team, we have to go each and take care of business, and get better doing it.

Kill singled out one EMU player for comment.

[Alex Gillett is] a guy that’s a lot like what I think Jordan Lynch will be some day. He can throw. He’s a physical runner. At the same time, about the time you say well, he’s just going to run the ball, then he can throw it. He’s a two-dimensional guy, but he can run like a running back. They’re doing a great job up front with their people. They’re down-scheming a lot, pulling people. They get angles on you. They are doing a great job coaching their kids of doing what they can do with their team right now. They’re getting an identity of what they’re going to be like or what he wants them to be like. It’s a different scheme that they’ll throw at us offensively than we’ve seen all year. It’s going to be a great challenge for our defensive guys in such a short period of time to get ready for it. They’ve done it, if you look; they’ve scored points on everybody. They’ve done a good job scoring points and holding the ball.

I think it’s particularly interesting that he mentioned that they haven’t seen anything like EMU’s offensive scheme all year. I’m fairly confident that Kill is at least the third opposing coach to make a comment along these lines. The one thing that to me has become fairly unpredictable about the offense is the pass/run mix. Overall EMU leans more to the run, but coming in to a game you’re never quite sure. One week EMU will run for 285 yards and only throw the ball nine times, the next week they’ll come out and throw 34 times. One week they’ll score just six points — two field goals — and the next week they’ll light someone up for 41 points. One week they’re in a shoot-out, and the next week they’re grinding it out defensively.

Kill also had some comments about how the team will try to deal with being on the road on Thanksgiving, particularly with a short (6 day) turnaround time from the last game.

I hope we do something different than we did last year cause we got [beat] by Central Michigan…We’re not going to do a lot different. We’ll hopefully prepare different. I hope our football is more mature than it was a year ago, and hopefully we play better. As far as what we’re doing, the toughest thing about this week is that we’re going to try to work a practice in with about maybe three-quarters of our kids today, which is difficult. We couldn’t practice Sunday because they need that time off. We’re on a short week so we’ll practice Tuesday and we’ll practice Wednesday mid-morning. Then for the guys who are traveling, we’ll have a Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday, kind of our pregame ritual, so to speak, and have a good feast. Then we’ll practice here Thursday morning and then hit the road, take that nice 6-hour trip to [Ypsilanti] and do what we did at Ball State, pretty much the same routine, go play Friday early in the morning and hopefully play well and accomplish what we set out to do.

It’s a good thing. I’ve been coaching a lot of years, I don’t know how many, but it’s a lot of them, all the way back to high school football. If you play in the state championship, you’re practicing on Thanksgiving. I’ve done a lot of all day things. We’ve seemed to be able to do it all on the road. Families adjust. It’s all part of being in college football or even high school football. As high school football coach, I thought it was a great time of the year. It was a lot of fun if you were still practicing. Coaching, you could write a book about our lifestyles. It’s totally different than most people. It’s unique and you have to have a unique wife, which I’m fortunate to have. You have to have great kids and I’m fortunate to have two beautiful girls who understand what their daddy does.

You can read Jerry Kill’s full comments, as well as thoughts from several football players, on the Huskies’ website.

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