Aug. 6, 2014
After a 2013 season in which it was sometimes unclear who would line up under center for the Minnesota football team from week-to-week, the Golden Gophers will begin Jerry Kill’s fourth season as head coach with a clearer sense of who their go-to quarterback will be.
Entering his third season with the program, redshirt sophomore Mitch Leidner is ready to lead the Gophers’ offense in 2014. The head of a youthful, five-member quarterback unit overseen by fourth-year QB coach Jim Zebrowski, Leidner gained valuable experience last season and will look to build on that with a veteran supporting cast.
The 6-foot-4, 237-pound Leidner played in 10 games and made four starts, proving to be especially effective on the ground, finishing with 407 rushing yards and tying for the team lead with seven rushing touchdowns. He is the only quarterback on the team with collegiate playing time under his belt.
The Lakeville, Minn. native ran for a touchdown in his collegiate debut UNLV and broke out in his first start against San Jose State, rushing for 151 yards and four TDs in a 43-24 victory. He went on to start against Big Ten foes Northwestern and Nebraska and in the Texas Bowl against Syracuse.
As the team’s clear-cut No. 1 quarterback this season, Leidner will look to improve on his passing game after throwing 78 times for 619 yards and three touchdowns a year ago. Despite a loss to the Orange in the team’s bowl game, he showed signs of improvement in the team’s 2013 finale, throwing for a season-high 205 yards and a pair of fourth-quarter TDs.
Aiding in the team’s improvement on its aerial attack will be a solid core of returning pass-catchers that features six wide receivers and three tight ends that lettered in 2013.
Competing for the No. 2 job behind Leidner will be a quartet of freshman quarterbacks.
After redshirting last season and maintaining first-year eligibility, Crystal Lake, Ill. native Chris Streveler and Conor Rhoda of Eagan, Minn. will look to play more prominent roles. Streveler has shown his running ability in past scrimmages and practices, and Rhoda gained experience running scout team offense last season.
That duo will be challenged by true freshmen Dimonic Roden-McKinzy of Kansas City, Kan. and Jacques Perra, the youngest of the group and an in-state product from Roseville. Roden-McKinzy participated in spring practice this year after early enrollment.