Presser Notebook: Illinois

MINNEAPOLIS - Jerry Kill was pleased with his team's effort against Michigan but was ready to get back to practice in preparation for Illinois. He spoke with the media on Tuesday at his weekly presser.

Injuries

One of the biggest concerns heading into the game against Illinois was the health of leading receiver A.J. Barker. Barker has been sidelined with an ankle injury since the Purdue game and will likely not practice this week, making it highly unlikely he will play this Saturday. Kill noted that the talented receiver would need a miracle to play this week.

Derrick Wells practiced Tuesday which is an encouraging sign for the Gophers' defense. Wells played against Michigan but saw limited action.

Minnesota's young offensive line could get a boost this week with a possible return from Ed Olson. Olson practiced some Tuesday in full pads but no decision has yet been made.

Wide receiver Derrick Engel injured his hamstring last week and is questionable heading into Illinois.

Looking Back

Kill was pleased with his offense's ability to move the ball against Michigan but was frustrated with the lack of execution in key situations.

"I think we moved the ball throughout the game," he said. "It's just we didn't make a play. I mean, you know. I've said that all along. I don't know what else I can really say. We got behind some people. We missed on some throws. We missed on a couple of critical situations, you know, on third downs, and you gotta convert those things. A dropped ball here and there or just making a play."

Defensively, Kill saw an improvement from his linebackers who made strides from the game against Purdue.

"But you know, I thought our play on Saturday was much better than the week before," he said. "And I thought we did some good things on Saturday. I think we still gotta be more physical at the point of attack and maybe take a better angle here and there and so forth. But I thought our play was better against Michigan than it was Purdue, frankly, at that position."

Looking Forward

With one victory needed to become bowl-eligible, many believe the Gophers' best chance for a win will come this week in Champaign. Kill stated that he didn't see it the same way.

"I think we got three games left, and we're going to Illinois to play, but I think all three games are critical," he said. "Now, this is critical because it's the next game on our schedule… Yeah, it's a critical game for us, there's no question about that. But I think the next three games are critical for our program."

When asked what he saw in Illinois, Kill noted that the team is filled with great athletes.

"Well, they're athletic. I said a year ago, they take the field, I got some good looking kids now," he said. "They're good looking up front and great defensive ends and they run well, and an active quarterback, which we've seen you're going to see in the Big 10 right now, and a guy that's mobile. And we've gotta do a good job of being able to we did some great things against Michigan rushing the passer, but we didn't contain all the time, you know, and sometimes we were in position and he just flat beat us."


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