Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner was so frustrated after a play toward the end of Tuesday’s practice, he heaved the football downfield in disgust.
Coach Jerry Kill didn’t like that one bit, so he sent the entire first-team offense to the sideline. Before long Kill had the whole team doing up-downs, where players run in place and drop to ground on the whistle.
When practice ended, offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover made the offensive linemen run wind sprints for several long minutes.
Longtime observers compared it to Gophers spring practices in 2011, Kill’s first year on the job. Kill has been notably calmer this spring, mostly because these players seem to get it — this practice notwithstanding.
“We just weren’t finishing,” Limegrover said. “The defense came out with good tempo and good intensity, and they were running around, and we weren’t [on offense]. And when that happens you’re going to look bad in a hurry.
“I made sure I got that point across to them. You can’t come out here and participate. You’ve got to work to excel every day. So we’ve got a lot of work to do, and those guys have got to do a little soul searching, and come back Thursday ready to go.”
Asked how Leidner has looked overall this spring, Limegrover said, “I think Mitch has really done a nice job. He’s gotten better every practice. He’s showing more composure than he has in the past and has been calmer.
“He got frustrated today. It’s frustrating when you can’t get anything done, and it had nothing to do with him today. Sometimes in the past, he’d get really over-the-top frustrated and irritated. He had a few moments, but not nearly like he did before. So that was a very positive.”
Assessing backup QBs
Quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski said like Leidner, backup quarterback Chris Streveler needs to work on his consistency.
“His bad’s bad,” Zebrowski said of Streveler. “Good’s good. Bad’s bad. Like today made a bad throw [on an interception by safety Ace Rogers]. You can’t go there. It’s something that you can’t do as you get older in the program. If the [defender] makes a great play off a throw, that’s life.”
Zebrowski said he sees signs that Streveler is pressing, trying so hard to do well. Behind Leidner and Streveler, the Gophers have two walk-ons — redshirt freshman Jacques Perra and sophomore Conor Rhoda.
“I think Jacques and Conor have done a really good job,” Zebrowski said. “They’re more calm. You rip on them or yell at them, they just kind of keep on trucking. They don’t overheat. So I’m really impressed, especially being preferred walk-on type kids, and they just do their job.”
• Linebacker De’Niro Laster suffered a finger injury in last Saturday’s scrimmage and is likely done for the spring. Defensive tackle Gary Moore injured his right hand Tuesday, making him questionable for the spring game, as well.
• Wide receiver Isaiah Gentry, who missed the previous two practices because of hamstring tightness, was back at full speed. Perra hit him with a nice pass on a 25-yard sideline route in 7-on-7 drills.
• Wide receiver Desmond Gant remains out because of concussion symptoms. Two starters missed Tuesday’s practice because of the flu — wide receiver KJ Maye and defensive end Hank Ekpe.
• Defensive tackle Scott Ekpe, who is recovering from ACL surgery, was back in pads for the first time this spring.