- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Minnesota coach Jerry Kill appeared at the team's weekly news conference earlier Tuesday, but the most definitive status update he had wasn't about touchdown drives. Just drives.
"I'll be driving in February," Kill told the Minneapolis media.
Kill's seizures have prevented him from driving for years, but his goal of getting back behind the wheel in four months suggests he's encouraged by the progress made during his treatment for epilepsy. That's great news.
The Gophers coach hasn't been on the sideline since Sept. 28, as he suffered a seizure a week later that prevented him from traveling to the team's game at Michigan. Kill has watched Minnesota's last two games from the coaches' booth, briefly addressing the team in the locker room and taking a more active role for last Saturday's game against Nebraska.
But his return to the sideline in a full-time head-coaching role is still to be determined. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will continue to serve as Minnesota's acting head coach. Kill once again plans to be in the coaches' booth for Saturday's game at Indiana. He sits between the offensive and defensive coaches in the booth and has access to both sides of the ball.
While not ideal, the system isn't hurting the Gophers, who have won back-to-back games, against Northwestern and Nebraska. Kill, who admits he's a bit superstitious, noted Tuesday, "We ain't gonna screw it up right now."
"I've kind of changed my role, what I needed to do, what everybody else needed to do," Kill said. "I have an extreme amount of trust in our staff, so we're just going to keep chipping along. I'm not going to worry about how we do it. Everybody worries about quarterbacks or everybody worries about coaches. The famous Al Davis said, 'Win, baby, win.' It doesn't matter how you do it, throw your egos to the side and work as a group.
"We've been doing that our whole careers."
Kill has sought advice from Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who took a leave of absence during the 2012 season to go through treatment for leukemia. Kill also mentioned on Tuesday that former longtime college coach Darrell Mudra, who led programs such as Arizona and Florida State and won a Division II national title at Eastern Illinois. Mudra coached games from the press box.
Whether Kill remains up top or returns to the field remains to be seen, but he was pretty definitive about one thing on Tuesday.
"I'll be driving in February," he said. "I'm not going to say, I hope and maybe and all that. I'm going to be driving a truck, too."