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Football: We Asked, They Answered with Jerry Kill

Minnesota Golden Gophers head football coach Jerry Kill talks about he program at the St. James Hotel in Red Wing. Kill and many other Gopher coaches visited the St. James as a part of Gopher Chalk Talk 2013. Photo by Chris Harrell

The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team finished 6-7 last season, going 2-6 in the Big Ten Conference and competing in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

The Gophers lost their bowl game 34-31 to Texas Tech after leading by a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining but head coach Jerry Kill, entering his third year with Minnesota, is known for turning around programs. He improved the Gophers from a 3-9 record in the 2009-10 season, his first season at the helm.

During a scheduled visit for the Gopher Road Trip Chalk Talk 2013 Tuesday at the St. James Hotel in Red Wing, Kill spoke with the Republican Eagle about the Gophers' football program and Cannon Falls' standout Cedric Dicke, who went to play football for Minnesota as a preferred walk-on.

What was it about Dicke that warranted a preferred walk-on invite?

He comes from a great family and he's a tremendous kid, he has a lot of athleticism. He's a young man who is kind of growing into his body right now as we speak. His future is whatever Cedric wants it to be. He's got a great work ethic and I'm real excited about his progress and I think he got a lot of experience in the spring which was neat for him.

What are Dicke's strengths and where are some areas he will need to improve?

I think as he learns to play college football, college football is a very physical game, we moved him from in the secondary, we moved him to outside linebacker so it's a more physical position. And then just getting comfortable in what we're doing defensively. It's hard to learn until you really get in there and get a chance to mix it up. He's just like a lot of our players right now, he just needs to get older. You can't put a price tag on experience.

Where do you expect Dicke might be able to excel for the Gophers?

He's playing outside linebacker for us right now and we've worked him on a lot of special teams. That's where his body, and he's still growing, but I think that's what he'll be in college football.

Does it seem like the Minnesota football program is turning a corner?

It's pretty much been everywhere we've coached before, the same kind of story. You usually need three recruiting classes and we've only had one, this is our second one coming in. I think we're on the same progress as we've been at the other places and maybe a little bit farther ahead than I thought we would be so I think we're moving forward.

What are your expectations for the upcoming season?

We just expect to be better, I don't think you can put wins and losses on it. I think we just expect to be better.

What are your views on players from this area?

All I can tell you is that we've put, since I've been here in two years, we've put 19 kids on scholarship from Minnesota. Now, sometimes you look at how many we sign but we'll take a walk-on player and if they get in a situation to be in a starting role, we'll scholarship them before we go out and get anybody else. We want to build our foundation with good, hard-nosed Midwest kids and we certainly want to start in our state.

If we're ever going to be successful, we want to try to keep the best players in our state.

--Compiled by Chris Harrell, staff writer