Hartman: Despite loss, Gophers show promise with Leidner at QB

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 5, 2013 - 11:52 PM

Saturday’s game might have turned out better for the Gophers had a handful of key plays went their way, such as this 50-yard kickoff return by Marcus Jones, dragging Channing Stribline along. It was negated by a penalty.

Photo: MARLIN LEVISON • mlevison@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

For a score as lopsided as it was at 42-13, a Gophers team couldn’t play much better at Michigan than it did Saturday when it trailed 14-7 at halftime and it was in the game until the fourth quarter.

The score was tied 7-7 until the final minutes of the first half, and Michigan had scored its other touchdown after a fumble by quarterback Mitch Leidner deep in Gophers territory.

The Gophers, who were playing without Jerry Kill after the coach suffered a seizure Saturday morning, were still in the game late in the third quarter, trailing 21-10 but moving the ball.

Yes, there were some positives in this game for the Gophers. Look at how the offense performed for three quarters, compared to what it did against Iowa last weekend.

Against the Hawkeyes, the Gophers ran 27 times for 30 yards and passed for 135, a total of 165 yards of offense. Against a Michigan team that is no doubt superior to Iowa, which lost at home to Michigan State on Saturday, the Gophers ran for 136 yards and passed for 145 for a total of 281 yards.

Leidner, a surprise starter, rushed 18 times for 66 yards, more than double what the entire Gophers team did at home last week. And Leidner, who doesn’t have a great reputation as a passer, completed 14 of 21 passes for 145 yards, with a touchdown to Maxx Williams and one interception.

But the Gophers had no defense for Devin Gardner, who was supposed to be struggling for Michigan. He had thrown for 801 yards in the first four games this year but had seven touchdowns to go against eight interceptions. His previous game at UConn was easily his worst as a Wolverines starter, when he completed only 11 of 23 passes for 97 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

But against the Gophers he was playing like he did last season. Gardner went 13-for-17 for 235 yards passing with a TD and no interceptions. His 212.0 efficiency rating was the second highest in his career as a starter.

So if you want my opinion, after last week it looked like a hopeless finish to the season. But if the Gophers, led by Leidner at QB, can play like they did for three quarters Saturday, they will win some conference games.

U’s price tag for Vikings won’t change

While the Vikings are set to play their next two seasons at TCF Bank Stadium, don’t bet against them playing more games in London.

The Vikings’ 34-27 victory over Pittsburgh last weekend in London was so successful financially and otherwise that the team might play again in London, most likely in 2015, with 85,000 seats available at Wembley Stadium.

Even if the Vikings do travel overseas for one of their eight home games, they still will have to pay the University of Minnesota $3 million for each of the two seasons scheduled. That price is firm, regardless of the number of games played at the Gophers stadium.

“If we play in a playoff game we still pay $3 million, plus the gameday expenses,” said Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of public affairs/stadium development. Those gameday expenses are about $500,000 per game, he said.

Meanwhile, while there was the big announcement Thursday of the agreement between the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, most everything was locked up before last weekend’s trip to London.

Two key members of the negotiation for the Vikings — Steve Poppen, VP of finance and chief financial officer, and Kevin Warren, vice president of legal affairs and chief administrative officer, didn’t go so they could help iron out some details.

“We finally agreed the day before the meeting,” Bagley said. “The final details, I mean the big issues, we were all agreed.”

Seat licenses expected, cheaper

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:07 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington 6:00 PM
Carolina 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Montreal 7:30 PM
Arizona 8:00 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question