LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KTSM) – New Mexico State head football coach Jerry Kill returned to practice on Wednesday and NMSU’s coaching staff says they expect him to be able to coach the Aggies in their rivalry game against New Mexico in Albuquerque on Saturday.

Kill arrived to NMSU’s practice in the rain midway through Wednesday’s workout. He had not been at practice this week after being what the university described as, “under the weather.”

Assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Tim Beck has been handling the day-to-day operations in Kill’s absence. The two could be seen conversing on the practice field on Wednesday.

Kill did not speak to the media after practice, but Beck said NMSU expects him to be ready to coach on Saturday.

“Coach Kill and I have communicated through this. He’s doing a lot better and he’ll be ready to roll on Saturday for sure,” Beck said. “We expect him to be there and be his old self.”

Beck operating practices is nothing new for him; he’s been a head coach previously, from 2010-2019 at Pittsburg State in Kansas. The Gorillas were highly successful at the NCAA Division II level under Beck, winning the 2011 national championship.

Other members of the Aggies’ coaching staff also have head coaching experience, including wide receivers coach Tony Sanchez, who coached UNLV from 2015-2019.

“We’ve got a great coaching staff, so everyone knows what to do. We’ve got several guys that have been head coaches, so we’ve got good leadership with all of our coaches,” Beck said. “We just have to take care of the three main facets of the game and then we’ve got off-the-field people that are doing all the things they need to do in preparation for our trip up there. Everything is going as planned and that’s why Coach hired some of us, is to be able to take care of some of that for him.”

Beck said that the Aggies’ players had been handling Kill’s absence well this week and they were excited to see Kill when he returned on Wednesday.

Kill spoke to the team as he would normally after Wednesday’s practice and the players said it gave them energy to see him return.

“It gives a great boost, it’s like grandpa just came back to the house,” NMSU safety J.J. Dervil said with a smile. “It just brought everyone great smiles, great energy and we showed out. He told us, ‘we have a game and we have to handle business.’ We want to be the best in the state and we want to show that we’re the best in the state.”

NMSU quarterback Diego Pavia echoed Dervil’s sentiments.

“It’s great. He’s our leader and whenever we see him out here, we have to go even harder for him. That’s how I feel and the team feels. We want to make him proud. He’s given all of us an opportunity and we’ve got to make the most of it,” Pavia said.

Well-chronicled health issues, including stage IV cancer and epileptic seizures, eventually forced Kill to step down as Minnesota’s head coach in 2015. He then bounced around college athletics as an assistant coach and administrator, before getting hired by NMSU as the head coach in November, 2021.

Kill said at his introductory press conference when he was hired by NMSU that his health had improved immensely, thanks to great doctors, an improved diet, weight loss and more sleep at night.

NMSU would not disclose the specifics of Kill’s current ailment that kept him out of practice this week, saying only that he was, “under the weather.”

The Aggies and Lobos are slated to kickoff the Rio Grande Rivalry clash at 6 p.m. on Saturday night in Albuquerque. NMSU is looking for its second consecutive win over UNM, after beating the Lobos in Las Cruces on Oct. 15, 2022.