During Saturday's bruising loss to Iowa, Mitch Leidner took one particularly hard hit. Late in the third quarter, the Gophers senior quarterback ran the ball toward the right sideline, where two Hawkeyes drilled him simultaneously near his helmet, sending him flying out of bounds.

Leidner spent an extended moment on the ground, and Gophers head trainer Kammy Powell was right there talking to him, before Leidner bounded back to the huddle.

Leidner played the whole game, an eventual 14-7 defeat. When the team didn't make him available to the media, speculation spread that Leidner had suffered a concussion.

Coach Tracy Claeys dismissed the concussion talk Sunday in a session with beat writers who cover the team. But Tuesday, after the Gophers listed Leidner as out for this week's Maryland game, Claeys acknowledged that Leidner is going through the athletic department's concussion protocol.

Conor Rhoda, a former walk-on from Cretin-Derham Hall, is slated to make his first career start at Maryland on Saturday, with Demry Croft listed as the backup.

Claeys noted that he doesn't meet with the team's medical staff until 2 p.m. on Sundays, one hour after he meets with the writers.

"That's when I found out Mitch's situation, and he was doing much better," Claeys said. "But there's a [concussion] protocol there that we go through, and I think it's right to do it. It's the safest thing to do. When he gets through that, then he'll return to play."

The department's Concussion Management Plan says that any athlete "who shows any signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion must be removed from practice or competition and evaluated by a medical staff member."

Asked on KFAN (100.3-FM) about the third-quarter sideline hit on Leidner, Claeys said, "He was checked when he came out from the series, obviously. But he didn't show any symptoms until after the game. He popped up after that hit and went in."

On the ESPN2 broadcast, there were no visual cues that Leidner was concussed. Cameras zoomed in for multiple close-ups of the Lakeville native in the fourth quarter, and he looked normal, if increasingly frustrated.

He finished 13-for-33 for 166 yards with two interceptions. He was sacked twice, and took other hits while releasing the ball, as the Gophers struggled in pass protection late in the game.

As Claeys noted, every Big Ten game has an independent medical spotter on hand watching from the press box with the authority to stop play if a concussion is suspected.

"All the officials have the right to stop the game if they noticed it," Claeys added. "So he didn't show any symptoms until he got into the locker room, and then the medical staff took over."

Claeys said Leidner was placed in the concussion protocol Sunday afternoon.

The Concussion Management Plan states that an athlete must be cleared by a doctor before being allowed to return to practice or games. Athletes are monitored until symptoms return to a "baseline" level, and then must pass an ImPACT cognitive test.

Other steps include doing "light aerobic exercise" and "sport specific activity" without a recurrence of symptoms.

"I don't know all of the details, I really don't," Claeys said. "The less I know about it the better. I don't want him to play until he's healthy. I'll rely on the doctors to tell me that."

Meanwhile, the Gophers are turning to Rhoda, a fourth-year junior, who surpassed Croft on the depth chart during training camp. Croft was Leidner's backup last season as a true freshman, and the Gophers had hope of redshirting Croft this season, giving him three years of eligibility after Leidner is gone.

The Gophers also hope to redshirt true freshman Seth Green, but Claeys told KFAN that Green will be the "emergency" third quarterback at Maryland.

Rhoda has played in only three games in his Gophers career, completing one of two passes for 6 yards. He got extensive time running the first-team offense during spring practice, when Leidner was recovering from foot surgery.

"[Rhoda] likes to sling the rock," receiver Drew Wolitarsky said. "He throws really hard. So we're going to have to tape our fingers this week."