Wolfson: Jerry Kill getting outcoached, but give him time with Gophers
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Indiana lost to the 148th-ranked team in the Sargarin ratings, North Texas, and it doesn't come close as the embarrassment of the weekend for the Big Ten.
For the third time in four years, the Gophers lost to a Dakota school. In what clearly wasn't a fluke, North Dakota State won 37-24 on Saturday night at TCF Bank Stadium.
In a matchup on 10 occasions, the Bison would go 6-4 or better. It's tough to acknowledge, but talent-wise, they have better players at almost every position.
The Gophers could only be so lucky to have a left tackle like Billy Turner (Mounds View) or a cornerback like Marcus Williams (Hopkins).
In the understatement of the century, Gophers coach Jerry Kill said, "I feel bad for the state of Minnesota."
This is supposed to be a new, much more competent staff, and I think it is. But on this night, the Gophers couldn't block or tackle, committed stupid penalties, played musical chairs from snap to snap with their quarterbacks and worst of all, somehow didn't get it to register in MarQueis Gray's mind to throw a Hail Mary at the end of the first half.
Instead, the ball traveled to North Dakota State's 24-yard line and was eventually returned for a touchdown.
When the Gophers defense had a chance to get off the field, it either had a 15-yard personal foul penalty or just couldn't get a stop.
The Bison converted on six of their nine third-downs, rarely facing much of a pass rush. In fact, it was the Bison who easily won the sack battle 5-0.
For the fourth straight game, the Gophers allowed points on the opening possession and didn't get a stop until the fourth quarter.
The offense, when allowing freshman quarterback Max Shortell some leeway, had some success -- but not enough to make up for Gray's goose egg in the second and third quarters. In for 10 plays, Gray didn't do anything. Shortell was in for 17 of the Gophers' 24 points.
The right call is to let Shortell start at Michigan next Saturday, with Gray still getting three or four series.
Let's face it: Gray will make money, whether in the NFL or in Canada, by playing wide receiver. Let him cultivate that skill-set further and allow the likely quarterback of the future to get the majority of the snaps. It can't be beneficial for either to not know from play to play who's the guy.
Give Kill time
Iowa's Kirk Ferentz (7-17 through three years), former Northwestern coach Gary Barnett (5-19 through three years) and former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez (5-19 through three years) all won at a big-time level in the Big Ten after struggling mightily early in their careers.
But for those three, there are dozens who should've been let go after three years.
Barnett went to the Rose Bowl in Year No. 4. So did Alvarez. Ferentz went to the Orange Bowl in his fourth year.
Kill deserves four years, and barring multiple meltdowns in front of his superior like his predecessor, should get it. That includes the possibility he'll have a new athletic director to report to as soon as next July. (Joel Maturi's contract expires in June).
I firmly believe that if you got Kill and his coordinators to sit down and spill their guts over a few beers, they would tell you they have maybe five or six starters they can trust.
That doesn't excuse what took place on Saturday night.
As Kill said, he was outcoached, and badly.