On Monday, Virginia Tech first announced the hire of Jerry Kill as special assistant for the football program. It did not take long to notice just how highly Kill is thought of around the Virginia Tech program and around college football in general.
However, many outside the program wondered just what his role would be in Blacksburg. After Tuesday's press conference that included offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen and star WR Tre Turner, it is apparent that helping Virginia Tech’s run game is Kill’s main job.
“Offense has been what he’s done the most throughout the years,” Cornelsen said of Kill. “In particular, his ability in the run game to establish the run...I think that will be the first place that we go to him.”
As anyone who follows Virginia Tech knows, the run game had been abysmal this season entering the Furman game. Keshawn King did have a breakout performance against Furman with 119 yards on 12 carries earning our Offensive Hokie of the Game honors.
Now, the Hokies will look to the well-respected Jerry Kill for ideas on how to make success like that more common.
Kill has had a great amount of success in his coaching career, and a lot of that is due to how well his teams run the ball. One instance of this is the 2014 Minnesota Golden Gophers. When Kill won Big 10 Coach of the Year that season, his Minnesota team averaged 215.5 yards per game on the ground.
In 2010, Kill coached the Northern Illinois Huskies to a 10-3 record. That season, Northern Illinois averaged an incredible 260.4 yards per game rushing. Once again, Kill’s success was directly linked to a good running game, which is a good sign for what he may do at Virginia Tech.
Another positive aspect of this hire is that Kill has already developed a relationship with many coaches and players in the Virginia Tech organization. Cornelsen said that Kill really connected with the program just a month or so ago when Justin Fuente invited Kill to be at multiple Virginia Tech practices during fall camp.
“We got a chance to get him up here for fall camp for a few days,” Cornelsen said. “It’s awesome to have guys like that for a few days that can give you some perspective. Then a chance to get him every day and help us in whatever way that he can, I know he’s excited and we’re thrilled to have him.”
Virginia Tech WR Tre Turner took to Twitter to congratulate Kill on the hire earlier this week. He also had nothing but praise for Kill at Tuesday’s press conference.
“Me and Coach Kill, we had a lot of conversations on the sideline during the whole week of camp that he was here, because that was when I was still a little banged up,” Turner said. “It was like different reps, he would just talk to me about what to do, what he would do if he was the coach, and stuff like that. In that little week that he was here, he taught me a lot of football. So I’m glad that we hired him.”
For some of the coaches, their relationship with Kill goes back even further. Cornelsen, for example, says he first met Kill almost 30 years ago.
“I’ve known Jerry for a long time,” Cornelsen said. He coached me in 8th grade at a football camp, taught me how to run the triple option.”
As this Virginia Tech staff looks to fix their issues on the ground, bringing in a veteran coach with more experience may be just what the doctor ordered. The Hokies are at least hoping that this move will help them find the consistent spark on the ground that they're looking for.