Kill Takes Blame For Another Lopsided Loss

Jerry Kill is a hard-driving football coach who is now doubling as a father figure. Kill, in his first year on the job at Minnesota, realizes his out-manned team needs a pat on the back more than a browbeating at this point in time.

"Right now I am doing less coaching and more mental support for our players than anything," he said after the Gophers' latest loss, a 41-14 drubbing to Nebraska. "It's tough right now for the kids."

Minnesota is 1-6 overall and 0-3 in the Big Ten. The Gophers have been outscored 144-31 in their conference losses, including 103-3 in the first half. Kill hasn't been bashful about criticizing his team since taking the job in December, but he realizes now isn't the time to talk about negatives.

"We are improving and everyone is working hard to get better," he said. "We just need to keep fighting through these tough times and everything will eventually get better."

Kill admits the lopsided losses have taken their toll on his squad, which finished 3-9 last season and will be fortunate to duplicate that record in 2011. The Gophers trailed 34-0 early in the second quarter and any hopes of keeping the game competitive were gone.

Instead of blaming his players, Kill laid the responsibility for the way the loss came about at the feet of himself and his coaching staff.

"We didn't play consistent football today and we kicked ourselves in the tail end," he said. "We didn't get beat physically, but it was the mental game that got us, which is part our fault (the coaching staff) for not having the team ready to play."

The players are trying to stay positive in spite of the results as they look toward the next game at home against Iowa on Saturday.

"We've been hit with a lot of adversity as a team and our defense has gotten together and talked about whatever we get dealt with we will try and bounce back from," said defensive back Kyle Henderson. "I think we did pretty well with that."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Gophers have started 1-6 the last two seasons and three times in the last five years (2007, 2010, 2011).

--Minnesota has lost 15 straight games to Nebraska. The Gophers' last win in the series was a 26-14 road victory in 1960. Minnesota hasn't beaten Nebraska in Minneapolis since 1954.

--The Gophers managed to break one streak in the 41-14 loss when quarterback MarQueis Gray scored on a one-yard run in the third quarter. Nebraska had scored 145 consecutive points against Minnesota in the series, dating back to the 1984 matchup when the Cornhuskers scored the final touchdown of the game. Nebraska defeated Minnesota 48-0 in 1989 and 56-0 in 1990 before taking a 34-0 lead Saturday.

KEEP AN EYE ON: LB Keanon Cooper -- The junior led Minnesota with a career-high 12 tackles against Nebraska. Cooper is third on the team with 45 tackles.

LOOKING GOOD: While it doesn't show up on the scoreboard or the statistics, the Gophers continue to play hard, which wasn't always the case last season. Minnesota scored two touchdowns in the second half against Nebraska while holding the Cornhuskers to one score.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The Gophers won't be able to compete until they can control the line of scrimmage. Minnesota continues to get pushed around on both sides of the ball and until that stops, the lopsided losses will continue. The Gophers allowed 346 yards rushing against Nebraska. The Gophers were worn down by Rex Burhkead's 117 yards on 23 carries and then gave up a big play on Kenny Bell's 81-yard touchdown run. Meanwhile, Minnesota gained 132 yards on the ground, 67 of which came from quarterback MarQueis Gray.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The team responded well in the second half and fought back, which showed toughness in them. We just weren't consistent, but we definitely got better and started to get in a rhythm in the second half." -- Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, on his team scoring two touchdowns in the second half against Nebraska.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES:

QB MarQueis Gray -- He completed 9-of-18 passes for 122 yards and ran 16 times for 67 net yards. He also had a one-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter. Gray had a critical fumble in the second quarter that Nebraska recovered in the end zone for a touchdown.

RB Duane Bennett -- Scored on a six-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and gained 55 yards on 12 carries. He also had 158 all-purpose yards, including 103 yards on five kickoff returns.

S Kim Royston -- He recorded 10 tackles against Nebraska. The sixth-year senior has been in double figures in tackles five times in seven games this season.

WR Da'Jon McKnight -- He caught two passes for 77 yards, including a 53-yard flea-flicker pass from quarterback MarQueis Gray, the Gophers' second longest play of the season. McKnight also tied his career long with the catch, set previously against Michigan State in 2009.

ROSTER REPORT

--LT Ed Olson left the Purdue game with a quadriceps injury, but started against Nebraska.

--OL Zach Motta played against Nebraska after missing the last two games with a head injury.

--CB/KR Troy Stoudermire has missed the last three games because of a fractured left wrist.

--RB David Cobb, has missed the last two games because of a hamstring injury.

--RB Devon Wright didn't play against Nebraska because of a hamstring injury.

--DE Harold Legania has missed the last two games because of a foot injury.

--OT Jimmy Gjere has missed the last two games because of a concussion.

--DE Leston Simpson has missed the last two games because of a head injury.


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