Minnesota Kill Fleck Football

Former Minnesota head football coach Jerry Kill, seen here in 2015, has been hired as a special assistant to Justin Fuente.

BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen remembers learning the triple option from Jerry Kill at an eighth grade football camp.

Cornelsen won’t be looking for follow up lessons on the triple option when the two reunite later this week, but he will look for input from Tech’s new special assistant to the head coach on the team’s struggling ground game.

“Offense has been what he’s done the most throughout the years, in particular his ability in the run game, to establish the run,” Cornelsen said on Tuesday. “I think that will be the first place we go to him just for ideas and evaluation and ways that he can help us.”

Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente announced the addition of Kill to the team’s staff on Monday and offered a very broad job description for Minnesota’s former head coach.

“This is an opportunity for coach Kill to come in and continue to give us good feedback involved in virtually every aspect of our program from drawing on his years of experience and knowledge,” Fuente said. “I’m excited to have that resource for our coaches and for myself.”

Kill turned Northern Illinois into one of the top rushing offenses in the country during his three-year tenure.

The Huskies were ranked No. 81 in the country (135.5 yards per game) in 2007, the year before Kill took over, and was a top 20 rushing offense two years later. In Kill’s final season, the Huskies averaged 260.4 yards per game (No. 7) with a FBS-leading 6.3 yards per carry.

The turnaround at Minnesota wasn’t quite as drastic, but the Gophers steadily improved and peaked in 2014 by averaging 215.5 yards per game (ranked No. 30).

And Cornelsen appreciates Kill’s body of work going back to his days coaching then 1-AA football at Southern Illinois. Cornelsen was an offensive assistant alongside Fuente at SIU’s conference rival, Illinois State. The Gateway Conference foes played each other annually.

“Just always had an amazing amount of respect for what he’s been able to do as a coach and the way he’s done it,” Cornelsen said. “The way his teams have always played. Discipline and toughness.”

Tech’s run game is off to another slow start averaging 152 rushing yards (No. 84 in FBS) on 3.7 yards per carry (No. 99) through three games. The Hokies have been in the bottom half of FBS in rushing offense since Fuente took over.

Cornelsen envisions Kill offering a fresh perspective on things just as he did during fall camp when he spent a few days on campus watching practice.

Mike Niziolek is the Virginia Tech football beat writer for The Roanoke Times. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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