Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner rushed for 111 yards in last year’s come-from-behind 28-24 victory at Nebraska. That was one of eight career times he has rushed for more than 50 yards.
This year, Leidner hasn’t rushed for more than 47 yards in any of the Gophers’ six games. Coach Jerry Kill acknowledged last week that Leidner had an unspecified injury and was not running as well.
Leidner said he felt better last week, even though he rushed only six times for 14 yards in the 41-13 victory at Purdue. Next comes Nebraska, on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.
“I feel the best I’ve felt all season,” Leidner said Tuesday. “I’m excited to be able to be healthy and go out against Nebraska, and get a bye [next] week, and keep getting my legs back, and finish strong throughout the season.
“I felt strong last week against Purdue, and I’m looking forward to continuing staying fast.”
The Gophers hope to have safety Damarius Travis and defensive linemen Scott Ekpe and Gaelin Elmore back from injury Saturday, Kill said.
But Kill said it’s unlikely they’ll have offensive linemen Brian Bobek and Josh Campion or cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun back from their injuries.
Kill also said punt returner Craig James could return in three weeks. James has a broken leg, but it’s to a non-weight-bearing bone.
Call from Osborne
Kill was talking about the Nebraska rivalry when he said, “I have great respect for Tom Osborne. He called me when our athletic director situation happened, and he was one of the first guys that made a call to me.”
That was a reference to Norwood Teague’s resignation in August. Kill jokingly said he tried to hire Osborne as Minnesota’s AD. Osborne won three national titles as Nebraska’s coach before serving as the school’s AD from 2007 to ’13.
“I’ve got a great deal of respect for what he’s done there and all the coaches before him,” Kill said. “I’m very good friends with [former Nebraska and current Ohio coach] Frank Solich. I’ve had players that I had in high school play there. So got a great deal of respect for their program.
“You know, you play Nebraska, and you’d better be ready to play.”