MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota coach Jerry Kill suffered another game-day seizure, at halftime while the Gophers were playing Western Illinois on Saturday, and was taken to a local hospital as a precaution.
But the Gophers, used to this by now, carried on and pulled away for a 29-12 victory. Afterward, despite the unavoidably distracting absence of the boss, they said again they’re not concerned about his health.
Kill was at home and resting comfortably two hours after the game, according to the university. Taken away on a stretcher, after he writhed back and forth on the ground for several minutes with the Gophers in the locker room with a 7-6 lead, Kill went to the hospital to ensure proper medication levels, according to spokesman Chris Werle.
“Everybody tries to spin it, that it’s going to have an effect,” defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said. “I’m telling you: We know how to coach football, OK? The kids know how to play. They’re trained very well.”
Still, Claeys acknowledged the frustration of the attacks that occur without warning.
“If it happens again, we’ll handle it the same way. I have confidence in that,” Claeys said, adding: “You just don’t have him there, but beside that we just all do our job.”
Kill has worked with doctors to bring his seizures under better control with medication, rest, nutrition and exercise, but the stress of a game day is hard to avoid.
Kill suffered a seizure in the locker room at halftime last November during a loss to Michigan State, his third documented episode during a game at Minnesota since taking over here in 2011. He had seizures after a defeat by Northwestern last October and also in September 2011, on the sideline near the end of his first game at TCF Bank Stadium, a loss to New Mexico State. Other episodes have occurred elsewhere, too, including more than a dozen during a particularly difficult week in September 2011 that kept him away from the team. But he has never missed the start of a game, and there’s no indication he won’t be on the sideline next week at home against San Jose State.
“His recovery time now is so much better than it’s ever been because of all this stuff he’s done,” Claeys said.
Kill also had seizures on game day in 2001 and 2005, when he was at Southern Illinois, so the university was aware of Kill’s condition when he was hired and has long insisted it isn’t a deterrent to his ability to succeed in the job. After the last publicized seizure, the one during the Michigan State game last season, athletic director Norwood Teague said the school has “100 percent confidence in Jerry.”
Teague added then: “You don’t want to downplay it, but you get to the point of realizing that it’s just something he has to deal with at times.”
Teague was unavailable for comment on Saturday, and Werle didn’t take questions from reporters. But the players described their confidence in handling the situation.
“We’re well prepared like no other. We know something like this can happen because we know coach and what he goes through. I think our coaches just knew we weren’t going to miss a beat. I knew it, too,” tight end Maxx Williams said.
Said defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman: “We just pretended that coach Kill was still there. Nothing really changed. We’ve been through this before.”