Mitch Leidner earned conference freshman of the week honors for his 150-yard four touchdown performance Saturday in the Minnesota Golden Gophers 43-24 victory over the San Jose State Spartans at TCF Bank Stadium.
The Gophers finished their non-conference schedule with a perfect 4-0 record.
The game was over when…Mitch Leidner scored a one-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The Gophers went 46 yards on 11 plays and took five minutes and 15 seconds off the clock on the drive to take a three-score lead with just under 15 minutes remaining. The Spartans never threatened again.
The reason for optimism is…that Leidner stepped up in place of injured Phil Nelson to create a good quarterback controversy for offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover and head coach Jerry Kill. Good quarterback play can win games, while bad quarterback play can lose games. The Gophers are developing two quarterbacks that can win games for them.
The reason to worry is…Chris Hawthorne missed a field goal and extra point. He also had an extra point blocked. It didn't hurt Saturday, but leaving five points on the field goal could lose a game in the future. In addition to the kicking game woes, the passing game is still a problem. Leidner only completed five-of-12 passes for 71 yards Saturday. With conference play beginning, the Gophers are going to have to throw the ball at some point. They still haven't proven they can do it consistently well.
The unsung heroes were…K.J. Maye on offense and Aaron Hill on defense. Maye touched the ball four times (two rushes and two catches) and turned three of them into first downs. Hill recorded five tackles, 0.5 tackles for a loss and one interception. He recorded the interception on the Spartans' opening drive of the second half, which set the tone for the rest of the game.