U's Leidner seeks calm amid the competitiveness

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 3, 2014 - 11:37 AM

The QB needs to take the edge off to be a more effective player.

 

Gophers football coach Jerry Kill says the true measure of a quarterback’s performance is won-loss record, and Mitch Leidner is 1-0 in his new role as the team’s undisputed starter.

But in a week featuring some impressive Big Ten quarterback play, last Thursday’s 42-20 nonconference victory over Eastern Illinois wasn’t exactly a statement game for Leidner. He had a shaky first quarter and finished 9-for-17 passing for 144 yards and one touchdown.

“He’s such a competitive kid,” offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said Tuesday. “I think he wanted to go out and win the Super Bowl on his first five throws. Eventually he got calmed down. That’s kind of how the whole offense went.”

The Gophers will look for better from Leidner and Co. when they face Middle Tennessee State on Saturday. The Blue Raiders went 8-5 last year and breezed past a historically weak Savannah State squad 61-7 in their opener.

“They play hard,” Leidner said. “They’re a physical team, and they’re well-coached, so we’ve definitely got to be ready for this one.”

Leidner admitted he had some opening-night jitters against Eastern Illinois. It was the redshirt sophomore’s fifth career start, but the first four came last year as a fill-in when Philip Nelson was battling injuries.

“He’ll be fine,” Kill said of Leidner. “I thought he settled down in the second half. … When you’re the guy, it’s a lot different. He’ll get better each week.”

Other teams around the Big Ten enjoyed stronger quarterback play, Wisconsin notwithstanding. Tanner McEvoy derailed a potential Badgers victory over LSU by completing only eight of 24 passes for 50 yards.

But Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg passed for 454 yards against Central Florida, and Illinois’ Wes Lunt had four touchdown passes against Youngstown State.

Others showed even more precision:

• Michigan State’s Connor Cook went 12-for-13 for 285 yards and three touchdowns against Jacksonville State.

• Michigan’s Devin Gardner went 13-for-14 for 173 yards and three touchdowns against Appalachian State.

• Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett went 12-for-15 for 226 yards and two touchdowns against Navy.

A few factors besides nerves contributed to Leidner’s slow start. Berkley Edwards dropped Leidner’s first pass. Eastern Illinois, with a new coaching staff, unveiled a host of defensive schemes Minnesota hadn’t seen on film. And the Gophers were slow to get the ball to two key playmakers — tight end Maxx Williams and wide receiver KJ Maye.

Moving forward, a key point of emphasis will be finding ways to get touches for Edwards, Williams, Maye, David Cobb, Donovahn Jones and Drew Wolitarsky.

“That’s our job,” Kill said. “We’ve been able to do it before in other places we’ve been. … There are several guys we’ve got to be able to dish the ball to, and I think it keeps people off balance.”

Last year, Leidner was just as dangerous running the ball as he was passing it. He finished second on the team with 102 carries for 407 yards and seven touchdowns. He had two short rushing touchdowns against Eastern Illinois, but was limited to seven carries for 15 yards.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Fla Southern 2 FINAL
Detroit 12
FIU 2 FINAL
Miami 7
Toronto 114 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Golden State 108 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
Phoenix 98 FINAL
Miami 115
LA Clippers 110 FINAL
Minnesota 105
New Orleans 93 FINAL
Dallas 102
Nashville 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Carolina 2 FINAL
Chicago 5
Montreal 0 FINAL
San Jose 4
Virginia 59 FINAL
Syracuse 47
Baylor 59 FINAL
Texas 61
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
Northwestern St 92
Central Arkansas 49 FINAL
Sam Houston St 76
Norfolk State 59 FINAL
Howard 61
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 75 FINAL
Delaware State 85
Lamar 69 FINAL
McNeese State 70
Nicholls 89 FINAL
New Orleans 79
Incarnate Word 62 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 83
NC Central 62 FINAL
Savannah State 49
Texas Southern 77 FINAL
Alabama A&M 75
Prairie View 67 FINAL
Alabama State 65
Oklahoma 70 FINAL
Iowa State 77
Grambling St 62 FINAL
Miss Valley St 66
Boston College 66 FINAL
Virginia Tech 59
Jackson State 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 64
Bethune-Cookman 55 FINAL
NC A&T 58
Hampton 78 FINAL
Delaware State 63
Norfolk State 63 FINAL
Howard 60
NC Central 54 FINAL
Savannah State 65
Texas Southern 83 FINAL
Alabama A&M 46
Prairie View 42 FINAL
Alabama State 60
Jackson State 78 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 74
Grambling 56 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Tulsa 71 FINAL
Cincinnati 58
(1) Connecticut 88 FINAL
South Florida 65
UCF 57 FINAL
East Carolina 67
Central Conn St 53 FINAL
Bryant 55
Wagner 66 FINAL
Robert Morris 60
Sacred Heart 75 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 84
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Long Island 49
Mount St Marys 87 FINAL
St Francis-PA 90
Temple 56 FINAL
Houston 45
Texas Tech 65 FINAL
(6) Baylor 75
Iowa State 64 FINAL
Kansas 68
SMU 60 FINAL
Memphis 53
Oklahoma 66 FINAL
Oklahoma St 56
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is the best center on a Twin Cities sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close