Nelson overtakes Leidner, returns to being No. 1 Gophers QB

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 6, 2013 - 6:51 AM

Philip Nelson has regained his spot as the U’s top QB, but Mitch Leidner probably will play some, too.

 

After taking a back seat to Mitch Leidner for a while, Philip Nelson has re-emerged as the Gophers primary quarterback.

The Gophers remain proud of their two-quarterback system, and coach Jerry Kill is quick to say, “We need them both.” But Nelson has handled most of the time as the Gophers have reeled off three consecutive victories over Northwestern, Nebraska and Indiana.

Leidner had started three consecutive games before Nelson got the nod Saturday at Indiana. Nelson responded by passing for a career-high 298 yards and four touchdowns.

After leaving the game because of a hip pointer, Nelson returned to complete a 50-yard pass to Maxx Williams for the winning touchdown. The hip pointer remains an issue, but Nelson practiced Tuesday and is expected to play in Saturday’s home game against Penn State.

“It’s just a little painful, but the good thing with hips is they can’t get much worse,” Nelson said. “And the only way you can make them better is by continuing to keep moving them, so that’s where I’m at right now.”

For the past three weeks, the Gophers have gone into each game planning to start one quarterback and bring the backup in for at least one series in the first half.

Leidner started at Northwestern, and after four first-quarter punts, the Gophers turned to Nelson and never looked back, as he steered them to a 20-17 victory. Leidner started against Nebraska but, after three drives that included a touchdown, the Gophers let Nelson handle the rest, as they rolled to a 34-23 victory.

Kill said the decision on when to switch quarterbacks has come down to “feel,” and he credits quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski for keeping both of them ready.

At Indiana, Nelson completed three passes for 71 yards on the opening touchdown drive. But the Gophers offense stalled on its next four drives. So in came Leidner, who ignited the running game, and led the team on a 76-yard touchdown drive.

Leidner fumbled twice on Minnesota’s next possession and got the wind knocked out of him. Nelson replaced him and helped the Gophers build a 35-13 lead. Leidner filled in while Nelson was in the locker room, getting a pain injection for his hip, but Nelson finished the game.

“Philip is playing at a really high level,” Kill said.

Nelson hasn’t fumbled or thrown an interception since Sept. 28, the day the Gophers stuck with him throughout their 23-7 loss to Iowa. Over the past three games, all victories, Nelson has passed for six touchdowns and rushed for two more.

In Big Ten games, Nelson ranks third in the conference in passer efficiency rating at 165.3, behind Ohio State’s Braxton Miller (178.4) and Michigan’s Devin Gardner (174.8). This statistic factors in completion percentage, passing yardage, touchdowns and interceptions.

Nelson’s performance against Indiana earned him Big Ten Offensive Co-Player of the Week honors with Penn State running back Bill Belton.

“It’s a great award, and it’s a humbling experience all at the same time,” Nelson said. “I look around, and the whole offense played really well. And when everyone else around you is playing well, it makes everything go along a lot easier.”

Etc.

• Derrick Engel, who leads the Gophers in receptions (22), receiving yards (361) and receiving touchdowns (five), is questionable for Saturday’s game because of a sprained ankle, Kill said.

• Kill plans to coach from the press box again Saturday, he said, with defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys remaining on the sideline as acting head coach.

• ESPN’s Samantha Ponder, the wife of Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, interviewed Kill and Claeys for a segment that will run Saturday on “College GameDay”.

  • related content

  • Video: Jerry Kill: Gophers trying to stay loose, keep winning

    Tuesday November 5, 2013

    Minnesota has a chance Saturday to win four consecutive Big Ten games in a season for the first time...

  • Philip Nelson of the Gophers was named the Big Ten’s Offensive Co-Player of the Week after throwing for 298 yards and four touchdowns in a victory over Indiana this past Saturday.

  • Philip Nelson of the Gophers was named the Big Ten’s Offensive Co-Player of the Week after throwing for 298 yards and four touchdowns in a victory over Indiana this past Saturday.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New Orleans 28 FINAL
Carolina 10
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Memphis 6:00 PM
Indiana
Cleveland 7:00 PM
Chicago
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
Portland 9:00 PM
Sacramento
San Antonio 9:00 PM
Phoenix
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Columbus
Los Angeles 6:30 PM
Detroit
Anaheim 7:30 PM
Dallas
Nashville 8:00 PM
Calgary
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 7:02 PM
Memphis
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Hamilton 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

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 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who wins and loses in football this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close