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Former U quarterback is high on new Gopher head coach

Count former Gopher quarterback Rickey Foggie among a long list of past University of Minnesota football players who are excited about the future of this program under new head coach Jerry Kill.

Foggie and current running backs coach Brian Anderson were in town on Monday to take part in the Gopher Goal Line golf outing at the Alexandria Golf Club. The outing has become an annual event at AGC and one that Foggie was happy to take part in as he tries to lend support to a coaching staff he feels has what it takes to build a consistent winner in Minneapolis.

"The guy can coach," he said of Kill. "That's the one thing that has been very positive. He hasn't come in with a lot of rah rah. He has a staff in hand that's been together for a long time. They run a certain system that's proven to work in the past, so that's something that I want to be a part of."

Foggie kept coming back to the consistency of Kill's staff as reason for why this might finally be the hire that can get things turned around at Minnesota. Kill has taken over teams with losing traditions at Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois and turned them into winners. He has a .635 winning percentage as a collegiate head coach and has never left a program with a sub-.500 record.

Gopher fans went into this coaching search hoping for a big name candidate to emerge. That's not Kill. What they got was a man who has won everywhere he's been and has earned his shot to coach at the Big Ten level.

"In a lot of circumstances you don't really need a big name to come in and take over a program," Foggie said. "Especially one like ours because we've been down for so long. You need a staff that's consistent and that's what coach Kill is bringing to the program. He's bringing a system in that works. He's bringing a staff in that's been together."

Anderson has been a part of that staff for 10 years. He first joined Kill in 2001 at Southern Illinois as a wide receivers/returners coach. He worked with tight ends for three seasons at Northern Illinois before taking over the running backs with the Gophers.

Anderson said sticking with Kill when other opportunities come up is easy because they know what they're going to get with him. It is a staff that has grown comfortable with each other and has proven effective as a result.

"He's demanding," Anderson said of working with Kill. "But in the long run you see why and you see the payoff. Going to Southern Illinois and getting that program turned around was something that no one ever thought would happen.

"Then looking at Northern Illinois the last few years, going to three straight bowl games, something they have never done before. We just try to blaze our own trail and win football games. That's the No. 1 thing we talk about is winning."

Anderson will have his hands full trying to restore a running game that ranked near the bottom of the Big Ten every year under Tim Brewster. He likes what he has at tailback in Florida's Donnell Kirkwood and fifth-year senior Duane Bennett. He also seemed thrilled about the potential of redshirt freshman Lamonte Edwards of Woodbury.

"I think he has so much ability," Anderson said. "It's just a matter of getting him reps and getting him to understand the college game and what we look for. The sky's the limit for that kid."

The emergence of young players like Edwards and the potential of quarterback MarQueis Gray have helped add to the intrigue of this Gophers team. Kill has said not to expect too much too soon. He knows the work that has to be done to turn around a team that went 3-9 a year ago.

It is that tempered, hard-working approach that has won Kill so many supporters since his hire. He has proven great at his first task of winning back fans and alumni who had jumped ship over the years. His next job will be keeping them the only way a coach can - by winning.

"[We] know that coach Kill has his hands full," Foggie said. "But the thing is that he has a system that's going to work. It's not going to happen overnight, but we're on board, and we give him all the support he needs."

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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