The following article about Gopher's running backs coach Brian Anderson appeared in the Rockford Register Star in Rockford, IL. The article can be found here on the newspaper's website.
From the Rockford Register Star...
Brian Anderson coached on a running team at Southern Illinois.
He coached on a running team at Northern Illinois.
And he now coaches on a running team at Minnesota.
“Our background is running the football,” said Anderson, a 1988 Rockford West graduate who is one of seven assistant coaches who has been with Gophers head coach Jerry Kill at all three schools. “Every job we took over, a big part of the job was continuing the tradition of running the football. It’s what we love.”
But not until he got to Minnesota last year did Anderson coach those runners.
He coached receivers for seven years under Kill at Southern.
He coached tight ends during Kill’s three years at NIU.
Now Anderson, a receiver himself at Ellsworth Community College and Western Illinois, coaches running backs
“It’s a challenge,” Anderson said in a phone interview, “but it’s an easy transition for me since I’ve been with the same guys so long. We all talk the same language.”
This is Anderson’s 12th year under Jerry Kill, who led Minnesota to a 3-9 record in his first season.
Kill is the one who brought the spread offense to NIU. He ran the same spread offense at SIU and runs it now at Minnesota.
Junior quarterback MarQueis Gray led the Gophers with 966 yards and six touchdowns rushing last year. While Gray passed for 1,495 yards and eight TDs, he ran as much as he passed and the Gophers as a team ran 470 times vs. 274 passes.
Kill praised Gray on Thursday at the Big Ten’s media day in Chicago and said how the Gophers fare this year will depend more on the players around Gray.
Enter Brian Anderson and his running backs.
Minnesota was last in the Big Ten in offense last year. For the Gophers to post only their third winning record in the conference in more than 20 years, they need to run better. Much better.
“Being a running backs coach is a lot different that being a receivers coach,” Anderson said. “I’m trying to bring guys’ football IQ to a different level, teaching offense as a whole and getting the runners to understand blocking schemes.
“Vision is a big part. They have to trust the guys up front and work hand-in-hand with the offensive line and understand how they are trying to block. They also have to understand what the defenses are trying to do and see things before the ball is snapped.”
Anderson remains sad that West High closed its doors a year after he graduated and was turned into a middle school. “It’s disappointing. There was so much tradition there,” he said. “I am glad I was able to finish, but when the school closed, it changed a lot of things in Rockford.”
He didn’t mean for the good.
But eight coaches who have been together for a dozen years who changed things for the good at SIU and then NIU plan to do the same at Minnesota.
And to do it the same way — by running the football.
“We can be as good as we want to be,” Anderson said. “The sky is the limit.”