Gopher Football: Mitch Leidner set to make first career start Saturday

Sep 14, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers running back David Cobb (27) runs with the ball past Western Illinois Leathernecks defensive back Jonathon Rollins (4) at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers won 29-12. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 14, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers running back David Cobb (27) runs with the ball past Western Illinois Leathernecks defensive back Jonathon Rollins (4) at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers won 29-12. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries shape a team’s season more than any coaching staff would like in the Big Ten. For the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team, things are no different. Head coach Jerry Kill is going through a tough stretch where he is getting players back and losing players at the same time from the hardships of the game.

Heading into Saturday’s non-conference finale against San Jose St. University, Kill is likely to start redshirt freshman Mitch Leidner for the first time in his young career. A hamstring injury suffered to quarterback Philip Nelson in the team’s win last week against Western Illinois, will likely hold him out completely against the Spartans.

“We’ll have to be careful. We won’t take any chances whatsoever,” Kill told the media after practice Wednesday. He said Nelson’s injury is roughly “75 percent” healed.

With Nelson on the shelf and Leidner in at quarterback, the question then turns to who will be the No. 2 signal caller for the 11:00 a.m. CT kick-off against SJSU. “The way I’m approaching it right now, if we were to play tomorrow, Chris is our No. 2 quarterback and he needs to be ready to play. And it if Mitch gets tired, we’re going to play him.”

True freshman Chris Streveler (Crystal Lake, Ill.) is who Kill was referring to in regards to whom he would put in for Leidner if anything were to happen this upcoming weekend. Talk at the end of training camp had Streveler slotted to be the No. 3 quarterback, but keeping him off the field to preserve his ability for redshirt was a likely scenario with the squad.

Now that Streveler has been named the No. 2 over Nelson, the Minnesota coaching staff looks to possibly send in a true freshman at the position for the second straight season as they did with Nelson last year.

Leidner told the media on Tuesday that, “I’m ready to go,” and that “I like to run the ball, like to run people over, and I like to be a physical player.” We’ll see how his physicality will help to set the tone against the Spartans this Sat.; the toughest opponent on the Gophers’ schedule so far this season.

In Other News…

  • Running backs Berkley Edwards and Donnell Kirkwood both returned to practice this week, but are expected to play a limited role if any against SJSU. With David Cobb and Rodrick Williams Jr. both effective at running the ball the last couple weeks, look for the tandem to secure the majority of the rushing attempts from the backfield against the Spartans.
  • With the recent denial of a transfer waiver to Rakeem Buckles, head coach Richard Pitino and the Gophers basketball team announced on Wed. that the team will hold walk-on tryouts next month. Current university students are welcomed to Williams Arena on Tues., Oct. 1 at 6:00 p.m. for an hour long tryout.

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Tags: Berkley Edwards Donnell Kirkwood Football Gopher Morning Report Injuries Jerry Kill Minnesota Golden Gophers Philip Nelson Richard Pitino

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