Created:Tuesday, September 21, 2010 12:23 a.m.CDT

Kill jumps right back into coaching grind

Northern Illinois running back Chad Spann (left) attempts to avoid an Illinois defender this past Saturday in Champaign. (Rob Winner –

DeKALB – There’s no slowing down Jerry Kill.

While many would rest after the week of a five-day hospitalization, the Northern Illinois football coach worked late into the night Sunday after a short practice before returning to his office early Monday morning.

“You can’t take time off in the game of football,” Kill said Monday. “It’s hard to do. I owe this to the football family.

“I’m ready to go and looking forward to the preparation for Minnesota.”

Kill returned to the sideline to coach the Huskies in a 28-22 loss at Illinois on Saturday, six days after suffering health problems at his home following a 23-17 home win against North Dakota. Kill declined to delve into nature of his health condition, originally announced as a bout with dehydration after Saturday’s game in Champaign.

Kill, who underwent a surgical procedure on Sept. 3, was admitted to Kishwaukee Community Hospital in DeKalb during the early morning hours of Sept. 12. He then elected to transfer to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where he stayed until late Thursday night undergoing tests and consulting with his personal physician.

He was back at Huskies Stadium for a team walk-through on Friday afternoon before traveling on the team bus to Champaign.

“I’ve been through a few things in my lifetime,” said Kill, who battled kidney cancer and had a series of seizures in 2005. “I’m always going to do my job. I felt I was capable of doing that. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have put our team in that situation.

“Fortunately it all worked out. The kids played hard. We just came up a little short.”

Although he left most of play-calling duties to coordinators Matt Limegrover and Tracy Claeys, Kill looked like his boisterous self Saturday, barking at officials and throwing his headset and water cups.

The NIU players, needing no extra motivation against their in-state foes, played inspired with their fiery coach’s southern drawl once again audible on the sidelines. NIU (1-2) took a 12-7 lead against the Illini (2-1) in the first quarter before falling behind, only to cut the Illini’s lead to 21-19 with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

“I think if you ask both our coordinators and players, I probably coached better in that particular game than I did the first two,” Kill said. “Maybe I need to be gone more often for a few days. I don’t know.”

And while Kill still isn’t 100 percent, he certainly won’t take his foot off the pedal.

“Our kids knew I was going to be there on Saturday,” Kill said. “I don’t think there’s any question about that. If I could’ve been there for Thursday’s practice, I would’ve been.”

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