Northern Illinois Players Embrace New Coach

When former SIU coach Jerry Kill arrived on the Northern Illinois University campus in Dekalb, the Huskie players didn't know what to expect from their new leader. Now that they've had time to get to know him, they've got a better understanding of the man who is trying to bring new life to the football team. In this report, we talk with five Huskie players to gain some insight on the new coach…

One thing that you learn immediately about Jerry Kill from his players is that he is much more animated than his predecessor - Joe Novak. "Coach Kill is a fiery guy now," said linebacker Alex Kube. "He does a lot more coaching of the players. Coach Novak, he was a great coach. But, he coached the (assistant) coaches, and the coaches coached us. Coach Kill coaches everybody. He's everywhere. He'll be with the offensive line and then all of the sudden you'll see him over with the safeties and the corners."

"To be honest, they have a lot of similarities," said defensive end Larry English. "Coach Kill runs up and down the field a little bit more than Coach Novak did. It's often when you see Coach Kill running down and getting after a DB. Where Coach Novak kind of stayed in his spot and commanded things from there."

"They're beliefs on work habits are very, very similar," defensive tackle Craig Rusch said. "They both have a hard-nosed attitude. The biggest difference is the energy level. When the new staff came in, they just brought so much more energy. They're a younger staff. They've got a little more kick in them. That was the biggest thing I noticed how everything picked up the pace. I like it."

"I think they're similar in that they are both winners," observed wide receiver Britt Davis. "They both have that winning mentality. Coach Novak has obviously done tremendous things for this program. I think Coach Kill is going to do the same thing. They are both the hard-working type blue-collar people. They just go into the trenches and dig their way out and just continue to fight. There's no sugar-coating it with either one of those guys. They expect hard work and demand it."

One thing that Kill insists on is leadership from his seniors. "A lot of things have been different," Davis said. "I think just the demand that Coach Kill has put on me and a couple other seniors. Just to really lead this team by example. He commands a lot from us. That's been the biggest difference. Just being a senior, you see things from a different light. It's just really working hard and pushing guys to get better every day."

While the Huskie team has gotten to know Kill better, he is far from being predictable. "He's live," expressed tailback Justin Anderson. "I've come to find that with country guys, when he says he brings the hard hat and lunch pail, he is very animated. You don't know what to expect from him. I believe that if he wanted to, he'd call practice at – midnight. ‘We've got practice now, get ready'. I like that about him. When you know a person that is predictable, they get boring. You know what to expect from him. You know what they are going to say. I don't know that about him. They keep us on our toes and keep us aware of everything that's going on. It's a good aspect coming from him towards the team."

Kube likes that the coaching staff takes an interest in him both on and off the field. "They're both hands-on with the players, but Coach Kill gets more into with your personal life," Alex remarked. "He wants to know how you live. He wants to know how you interact off the field. He wants to know how you are with your family, how you are with your school, how you are with your friends. Just how you are as a person. I really like that a lot, because I feel like he understands me then. The coaches came in and made home visits where we live on campus. They sat down with us and saw how we lived. That was something that was never done before."


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