Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 10/2/12
MINNEAPOLIS With the University of Minnesota football team in the midst of its bye week, Gophers head coach Jerry Kill didn't hold his usual weekly press conference Tuesday. But Kill did address the media during the Big Ten coaches teleconference. On the call, Kill was asked plenty about sophomore quarterback Max Shortell, who made his second start of the year last Saturday at Iowa, a 31-13 Gophers loss. In that game, Shortell threw three interceptions -- including one that was returned 68 yards for a touchdown. But Kill didn't put much blame on the sophomore quarterback for those interceptions. The first one was a deep pass intended for A.J. Barker that was taken away by Iowa's Tanner Miller along the sideline. "I think that as you watch film, the first interception's really not an interception. Our receiver caught the ball, A.J. Barker, and the defensive back made a great play and took it out of A.J.'s hands," Kill said. "The next interception, we throw a fade route, which is a route that's hard to get an interception, and our wide receiver doesn't go and get the ball. And then the third interception we threw, the receiver ran the wrong route. He was anticipating doing one thing and it went the wrong way. . . . "We've got to make some plays. I don't think we tell him anything different because I think we've got to do a better job of route running and catching the football." It remains to be seen whether Shortell will get the start next Saturday when Minnesota hosts the currently undefeated Northwestern Wildcats. Senior quarterback MarQueis Gray has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain, but the bye week will give him a chance to heal. Until Gray is healthy, Shortell will be the Gophers' top option. The bye week serves as a chance for him to gain more chemistry with his receiving corps. "I think Max has been put in a tough situation," Kill said. "I just think the big thing Max has to continue to do is just continue to learn offensively where the check-downs are and do the little things and just continue to execute and get familiar with the receivers." Gophers 'shell shocked' by Hawkeyes, especially on the ground: During Minnesota's 4-0 start, the Gophers faced a number of pass-oriented offenses. But in their first game of the Big Ten season, the Gophers couldn't slow down Iowa's rushing attack -- particularly running back Mark Weisman, who ran for 177 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. "When you play a team like Iowa, you're not going to be able to stop the run with seven people," Kill said. "You've got to be able to get a safety involved. We didn't tackle. We'd been very good at tackling at the safety spot, and we didn't tackle in the first half very well at all." Kill noted the difference in Weisman's first-half and second-half numbers. Weisman piled up a good chunk of his yardage on back-to-back runs of 27 and 44 yards late in the first quarter. "The second half, we went in and talked to our kids. We gave up 38 yards rushing in the second half," Kill said. ". . . I think our football team got an education in the first half at Iowa. I think that we got shell shocked a little bit and settled down in the second half and were able to play a little bit better." Bye week comes at a good time: Aside from Gray, the Gophers have several players who have been banged up through five games of the 2012 season. That includes safety Brock Vereen, who Kill said was used only in nickel situations against Iowa. Minnesota should also get cornerback Martez Shabazz back on the field for the Northwestern game. In the meantime, Kill said his team's goals are to clean up the fundamentals and get healthy this week as he lightens the workload in practice. "We're not deep enough to think about a lot of personnel changes. Our big thing is fundamentally, in the Iowa game, they blocked better than we did, they tackled better than we did," Kill said. "Offensively, we've just got to build some continuity up front. This is a good week to do it." Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Browns have discussed trading No. 12 pick for Garoppolo

Report: Lowry expected to miss 4-5 weeks, return for playoffs

Report: Cowboys to release Romo in coming weeks

Report: Jennings expected to sign with Hornets

Did Hield reveal Kings tampered with him before trade?

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Nicklaus says Tiger's current situation is a 'puzzle to me'

Schroder still insists Isaiah Thomas insulted his family

Report: Cousins wants franchise tag to be used on him

Report: Jets likely to try and trade Sheldon Richardson

Knicks considering releasing Derrick Rose?

Report: Steelers, Brown making progress on extension

The best sports movies available to stream right now

Biggest surprises and disappointments of the NBA season

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The best sports movies available to stream right now

Biggest surprises and disappointments of the NBA season

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher to win 20 or more games in a season since 2000

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker