Quarterback Mitch Leidner scored four touchdowns and rushed for 151 yards in the Gophers 43-24 win over San Jose State in the teams final non-conference game at TCF Bank Stadium.
Leidner, who filled in for starting quarterback Philip Nelson also passed for 71 yards to push the Gophers to 4-0 on the season. Head coach Jerry Kill wouldn't go into specifics with his quarterbacks moving forward, but did say there was no controversy and that Nelson if healthy is his starter.
"Running the action game and mixing up the power game it was a good formula," said coach Jerry Kill. "Mitch is a tough kid. He will be a little sore tomorrow. It is good that we have the depth we have. I appreciate the kid's efforts."
The Gophers pounded the ball on the ground rushing for 353 yards in the win. David Cobb rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns as the Gophers owned the time of possession keeping San Jose star quarterback David Fales on the sideline.
"I spoke to the team and told them that we had to go back to the fundamentals and tighten things up," said Kill. "We couldn't let them sit back there and pick us apart."
Fales did just that in the first half as he threw for 294 yards before the Gophers adjusted and held him to nine yards in the third quarter and turned the Spartans offense over on an interception by linebacker Aaron Hill. Fales, who projects to be a top quarterback in the upcoming NFL draft finished with 439 yards and three touchdowns and with Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman in attendance, there wasn't a throw that Fales didn't show he could make.
"Let's give the kid (Fales) credit. I have coached for 30 years and I have never seen a kid thow the back-shoulder throw better than he does," said Kill. "There was no lie that when people came to the game today they knew there were some kids who were going to play in the NFL on the field today and he was definitely one of them."
Leidner tied a school record with four rushing touchdowns in the win and in the process has given Kill and the Gophers depth at a position that has lacked in past years. It has been a transformation for Leidner who was a pure drop back passer at Lakeville South and picking up yards with his legs instead of his arm has been a work in progress.
The Gophers remain home next Saturday afternoon when they will face Iowa at 2:30 for homecoming.
"There will be a lot of things that come up," said Kill about the Hawkeyes. "I know for our home fans, for 265 days they wait for this opportunity. I would rather play at home. There is nothing like playing at home and being able to take care of your home turf. Next week will be critical."