Kill to continue limited coaching role

Jerry Kill will be in the coaches’ box for the Gophers’ game against Indiana on Saturday.

Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill watches on the sidelines in the first half against Western Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, at TCF Bank Stadium.

Daily File Photo, Amanda Snyder

Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill watches on the sidelines in the first half against Western Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, at TCF Bank Stadium.

Nate Gotlieb

Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill said Tuesday he needs to “work smarter” after health issues forced him to step away from the team earlier this month.

Kill, on leave to focus on his epilepsy treatment since Oct. 10, spoke to the media Tuesday for the first time since Oct. 3 and indicated that his coaching staff will continue to play a larger role, even after he fully returns.

“I ain’t really going to fix anything,” Kill said. “My ego ain’t that big. I just want to win.”

The Gophers are in the midst of their most successful season of Kill’s three-year tenure.

The team recorded its biggest win in the Jerry Kill era Saturday with a 34-23 victory over then-No. 25 Nebraska. It was the Gophers’ second consecutive win with defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys as acting head coach and Kill watching from the coaches’ box.

Kill said he will again be in the coaches’ box this weekend when the Gophers (6-2, 2-2 Big Ten) face Indiana (3-4, 1-2 Big Ten) in Bloomington, Ind. Kill did not specify what his role would be but indicated he may be involved in the game.

Kill has had two game-day seizures this season. His first was during the Gophers’ Sept. 14 win over Western Illinois.  The other came on the morning of the team’s Oct. 5 loss to Michigan, and the head coach was unable to travel for the game.

On Oct. 10, the University announced Kill would take an open-ended leave to focus on his epilepsy treatment and that Claeys would assume head coaching duties.

The Gophers are 2-0 under Claeys. Kill has attended both games but under entirely different circumstances.

He made a surprise appearance at the Northwestern game Oct. 19, and players said they were shocked to see him at the game. Kill’s presence at the Nebraska game was expected, and he was even shown on the scoreboard giving a pregame speech. He said Tuesday that he was communicating with the team’s quarterbacks during the game.

Kill said he was at practice all last week in an observational role and spent a lot of time recruiting.

He did not say Tuesday whether he would return to the sidelines this season. He also didn’t directly comment on his health but indicated improvement by saying he’ll be able to drive by February.

“I guess that sums it up,” Kill said. “I’m going to beat the odds.”

Notes

– Kill said he received a note from Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who took a leave of absence last season after being diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia.

– Kill and linebackers coach Bill Miller, the oldest members of Minnesota’s coaching staff, watched from the coaches’ box as the fans stormed the field.

“I watched my wife about get run over,” Kill said. “I think one of the administrators kind of saved her. But I watched all the people. I watched security try to hold people back. That wasn’t going to work. So I watched them all take the field.”