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Posts Tagged ‘Jerry Kill’

Minnesota Has the Scheme, Needs Talent

Minnesota’s big-picture problem lies more with the Jimmies and the Joes, less with the X’s and the O’s. In terms of overall talent, Jerry Kill had much more to work with at Northern Illinois — Chandler Harnish, Chad Spann, Jasmin Hopkins and Martel Moore, among others — than he currently does with the Gophers, who are still bringing in the sort of athletes needed to run Kill’s system.

The Huskies had the players and the scheme; the Gophers are still learning the scheme. Even if the system was in place, this team lacks the weapons to run the offense at full capacity.

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    No. 84: Minnesota

    At their best, Jerry Kill-coached teams will make you wish you’d just stayed at home. At their worst, Kill’s teams will have opponents lining up at the door waiting impatiently for their turn, as more than a few Big Ten teams did a season ago. So this we know after Kill’s uneven debut: Minnesota will be less like Northern Illinois, more like Southern Illinois. In DeKalb, Kill took a two-win team and quickly turned it into the MAC’s biggest bully, reaching three straight bowl games before leaping to the top spot with the Golden Gophers. In Carbondale, home of the Salukis, it took Kill one painful season and a second middling finish before the program began its dominating run through the Gateway Conference. More Southern, less Northern. For the efforts of this comparison, let’s leave Saginaw Valley State out of the conversation. But even that small-school stop merits a mention: Kill won there too. Kill’s won everywhere, if not from the start then down the road – and always, Kill has won big.

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      Comparing Lembo to MAC’s Recent Past

      A brief history of the MAC. As it pertains to quick turnarounds, to be more specific. Pete Lembo went 6-6 in his first season at Ball State, matching the Cardinals’ combined win total over the previous two years — a period otherwise known as the Stan Parrish era. If this sort of development continues, it stands to reason that Ball State will at least make a strong challenge for the MAC West title in 2012. But rarely does this sort of progression occur in the MAC; instead, it often takes at least two full seasons before a once-moribund program can surpass the rest of the pack.

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        Tigers Go as Far as Fuente Takes Them

        Memphis isn’t the only team looking to reverse a recent slide heading into 2012, and the Tigers certainly aren’t the only team that has attempted to do so over the last five years. Last fall, 13 teams lost 10 or more games; of the 13, seven made a coaching change either during last season or shortly thereafter. At least 10 teams have suffered double-digit losses in each of the last five years, including six – Memphis, U.N.L.V., New Mexico, North Texas, Washington State and Idaho – who have done so at least three times. So Justin Fuente and Memphis aren’t alone.

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          Ranking the Big Ten’s Class of Quarterbacks

          Another Wisconsin-themed hypothetical question: Where would you have ranked the Badgers’ quarterbacks against the rest of the Big Ten if Danny O’Brien had instead opted for, say, Penn State? If Wisconsin had gone into 2012 with options like Joe Brennan and Jon Budmayr, it would have joined Michigan State as the only two teams in the conference to not return a quarterback with at least one career start under his belt. So consider the toppling dominoes: O’Brien should start, which should push Brennan into a more fitting role as his backup, which will allow Budmayr to heal and former walk-on Joel Stave to develop.

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            Using Simple Math, Minnesota Adds Two

            You can look before you leap, but there’s no way to truly know what sort of situation you’ve walked into until there are boots on the ground. Jerry Kill knew that Minnesota was in trouble, thanks to Tim Brewster’s woeful mishandling of the program over his four-year watch, but Kill severely underestimated just how difficult it would be to take the Golden Gophers back into Big Ten contention. So when it became time to finally put his signature on his contract with the university, which had sat languishing in the details since he was hired 10 months ago, Kill and Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi opted to make a significant change in the bottom line.

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              Midseason Grades for the New Guys

              There are 24 first-year head coaches doing work on the F.B.S. level, not counting the three interim coaches keeping seats warm at Arizona, New Mexico and North Carolina. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where that trio — Tim Kish, George Barlow and Everett Withers — become full-time replacements in 2012, though the way Withers has kept U.N.C. afloat through the first half of the regular season certainly bodes well for his future coaching opportunities, whether with the Tar Heels or otherwise. So how are the new faces doing at their new stops? Let’s hand out some midseason grades for the new hires, and include the grade each coach received over the winter’s hiring recap.

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                A Big Ten Blueprint: B.C.S. Themes

                The blueprint is out on how to beat Nebraska, and the rest of the Big Ten is taking notes. The Cornhuskers were the conference’s biggest unknown heading into September, which makes sense, seeing that the conference has been seeing each other on an annual basis for a century. Now, after Fresno State went blow-for-blow with Nebraska for the wide majority of 60 minutes, teams like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State and others have a simple, foolproof game plan for defeating the undefeated Cornhuskers: run right at ‘em. Then do it again, again and again. Touching on that and other major themes from Saturday’s B.C.S. conference action:

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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.