With starting quarterback Mitch Leidner sidelined with a knee sprain and turf toe, Minnesota completed just one pass against San Jose State but still managed to beat the Spartans 24-7 at home to improve to 3-1.
Chris Streveler started in Leidner’s place and threw for a measly seven yards on 1-of-7 throwing, but the redshirt freshman did run for 161 yards and a touchdown in his first career start.
Despite Streveler’s running prowess, head coach Jerry Kill said Leidner, a sophomore who has thrown for 362 yards and run for 51 this season, is still the starter. Leidner’s status for Saturday in the Gophers’ Big Ten opener at Michigan, however, is still unclear.
“He hasn’t done anything. I wish I had the answer,” Kill said. “I’m controlled by our training staff. We’ll have to see throughout the week.”
Kill said Leidner’s injury status is a fluid situation that could change as the week progresses.
“He’s got turf toe. He had an MRI, all that stuff, on top of what he’s had before. We’ll see how he progresses, see what happens,” Kill said. “I certainly won’t count him out, but I won’t know till the week goes.”
The Gophers have always been a run-first team under Kill – but never quite to the extent showcased against San Jose State. The Gophers ran the ball 58 times for 380 yards (6.6 yards per rush) compared to just seven passing attempts. Though Michigan has struggled to a 2-2 record thus far, the edge could go to the Wolverines if Minnesota presents itself as a completely one-dimensional offense once again.
Of course it won’t be easy for the Wolverines to stop workhorse senior David Cobb. He put up 207 yards on 34 carries against SJSU and has already racked up 539 yards on the ground this season.
Kill knows stopping Cobb will be a key for the Wolverines defense, so generating production through the air is crucial.
“They're going to come up, try to stop the run,” said Kill, who has never beat Michigan during his tenure. “There's no question that we have to be able to throw the ball and throw it well. We're smart enough to know we're going to have to do some good things in the throwing game to be able to win on Saturday.”
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