MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Redshirt sophomore Mitch Leidner didn’t dazzle in his first spring football game at Minnesota’s unquestioned starting quarterback, but he did prove a steady influence on an offense that played it close to the vest much of the day.
Leidner completed 7 of 15 passes for 74 yards, was sacked twice and threw an interception before a crowd of 4,752 at TCF Bank Stadium in a controlled scrimmage that featured just one touchdown in the offense’s 19-0 victory.
“I’m disappointed, I like scoring touchdowns,” said Leidner, the Gophers’ starter following the transfer of Phil Nelson. “At the same time, we learned a lot, we’re going to watch the film and get better from that.”
The Gophers got good production out of all four quarterbacks to played in the game, as they went 17 for 27 and gained 168 yards. The defense was surprising, considering that six linemen were held out because of nagging injuries. Redshirt junior Robert Ndondo-Lay, who waked on last summer after playing at Winona State, had three tackles and a sack, and also caught the eye of coach Jerry Kill.
“He wants to play, he works his tail-end off, and I like the way he did some things out there,” said Kill, who noted that no one was hurt during the game.
Here are five more things to know about Minnesota’s spring game:
OVER THE TOP: The spring game was preceded by an alumni flag-football contest, with former Gophers squaring off on a 50-yard field. Among the highlights was safeties on three consecutive plays, and Crawford Jordan’s interception, return and head-over-heels flip into the end zone.
KICKER COMPETITION: Redshirt freshmen Andrew Harte and Ryan Santoso were impressive in the competition for field goal kicked. Harte kicked a 53-yarder and Santoso hit one from 46 yards, with both kicks aided by a brisk wind into the open end of the stadium. Harte and Redshirt freshman Justin Juenemann added short field goals. The Gophers are looking for a new place kicker following the departure of Chris Hawthorn. Last season, Hawthorn made 14 of 18 field goal tries, kicking a season-long 45 yarder against New Mexico State, Nebraska and Penn State.
MIX-UP: The prettiest pass completion of the day was a 22-yard reception by junior KJ Maye, who came up off the turf pumping his fist. Just who threw the ball was a mystery for a while. Because all of the quarterbacks wore green, numberless jerseys, it wasn’t positively confirmed until after the game that the pass was thrown by Leidner. Redshirt freshman Chris Streveler was identified as the quarterback by the stadium announcer during that possession.
DEFENSE HOLDS: The offense failed to put the ball into the end zone on their first five drives of the day. Drive number six ended on a 33-yard touchdown run by redshirt freshman Berkley Edwards, who took a handoff and beat everyone down the left sideline for the score. Edwards had runs of 9 and 7 yards before scoring the touchdown.
NICE BLOCK: Senior defensive lineman Ben Perry left the field after taking a crunching block to the midsection by running back Roderick Williams, Jr. Perry took a long time getting up and was doubled over before making a slow walk to the sidelines. He later returned with no apparent side-effects from the hit.
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