Column: Leidner proved doubters wrong in victory

David Nelson

The Gophers’ aerial assault looked downright dangerous against Iowa in a game that honored military veterans nationwide.

On the day that quarterback Mitch Leidner threw a new career-high in touchdown passes, perhaps no player in the air attack looked more impressive than the field general himself.

The redshirt sophomore helped orchestrate a Minnesota offense that ran over a reeling Hawkeyes defense on its way to a 51-14 victory.

The boys in the maroon and gold poured on more than 400 yards of total offense against their southern rivals, and 138 of those yards were through the air.

Leidner played his best game as a college athlete Saturday afternoon and proved plenty of people wrong in the process.

“No doubt [this was] Mitch’s best game,” head coach Jerry Kill said. “He’s getting more confident.”

For much of this season, media pundits have criticized the young quarterback for his shaky accuracy and his lack of game-changing ability.

Minnesota’s offense has typically been running through its senior running back, David Cobb. But on Saturday, that wasn’t the case.

Instead, the Gophers’ offense stopped and started with Leidner, who threw for four touchdowns while adding 75 yards on the ground.

“[Our quarterbacks] have done a good job of staying in that bubble — just concentrating on what we can control and not worrying about what everybody else thinks or says,” Kill said.

The ball practically flew out of Leidner’s hand like a rocket as he picked apart Iowa’s defense.

He looked confident and in control during the dominating performance that brought the Floyd of Rosedale back to Minnesota.

“These are historical games,” Kill said. “It’s neat to have the privilege to coach in them. It’s neat to play in them, and it’s certainly even more fun when you win them.”

Leidner established a relationship early in the game with talented tight end Maxx Williams.

The duo produced three of the Gophers’ seven offensive touchdowns.

“It’s nice [having Maxx to throw to],” Leidner said. “… All of our other receivers are also stepping up. … Things are just really coming together for us [as an offense].”

But perhaps the most impressive part of Leidner’s stat line was his 77 percent completion mark.

In his postgame comments, Leidner said one of the reasons he played so well against Iowa was because he made “good decisions.”

And even though he missed on a couple of his throws, the quarterback’s play on Saturday should boost his and the team’s confidence.

That swagger will be an important trait for Minnesota to carry into its next contest this Saturday against powerhouse Ohio State.