In the first start of his career, redshirt freshman quarterback Mitch Leidner rushed the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers to a 43-24 victory over San Jose State University. The Lakeville native scored four touchdowns and ran for 151 yards in Minnesota’s final non-conference game of the season.
His four rushing touchdowns tie the record for rushing scores by a Minnesota quarterback and he is just the sixth Gopher player to rush for four touchdowns in a game in the program’s history.
Junior running back David Cobb continued to shine on Saturday with a great game to compliment Leidner’s rushing efforts. Cobb added 125 yards on 25 carries and scored twice to help pace the Gophers to victory.
Defensively Minnesota was tested by a fantastic Spartan passing attack. Senior quarterback David Fales showed his prowess with 439 yards passing and three scores. All three Fales passing touchdowns were to fellow senior Chandler Jones, who caught seven passes for 197 yards, a career high.
Adjustments made by head coach Jerry Kill and his staff helped slow the vaunted passing attack in the second half. They limited the SJSU offense to just 157 total yards after halftime. Minnesota allowed a season worst 329 total yards in the first half.
The win in front of an announced crowd of 45,647, improves the Maroon and Gold to 4-0 on the season. Their perfect run through their non-conference schedule puts them in line to earn a second consecutive bowl birth. They need two more wins in Big Ten conference play to lock that up.
Minnesota will host rival Iowa next Sat. at TCF Bank Stadium and try to recapture the Floyd of Rosedale trophy. Coach Kill after the game talked about rebounding from a loss last year at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City versus the Hawkeyes. “I know our home fans, for 365 days they wait for this opportunity. I would much rather play at home. There is nothing like playing at home and being able to take care of your home turf. Next week will be critical.”
Leidner stirred up some controversy with his performance as now the Minnesota coaches will have to decide between their hot-footed star and previous starter Philip Nelson. Kill did not tip his hat to who will be his starter going forward, but did say that “we are in about as good of situation that we can be in at the position and that’s all a plus.”
He also added that, “Philip’s our starting quarterback and he’s injured. If he’s 100 percent, it gives us the flexibility probably to do a little bit what we did at Northern Illinois.”
That quarterback flexibility, combined with an overall improvement defensively, makes Minnesota a team to watch in the conference for the remainder of the season.