Minnesota to adjust without Leidner

The quarterback is listed as out for the game against Maryland with a concussion.

Gophers quarterback Mitch Lender prepares to pass the ball on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016 at TCF Bank Stadium.

Bridget Bennett, Daily File Photo

Gophers quarterback Mitch Lender prepares to pass the ball on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016 at TCF Bank Stadium.

by Mike Hendrickson

Quarterback Mitch Leidner is listed as out for Minnesota’s game at Maryland on Saturday, head coach Tracy Claeys said on Tuesday.

The redshirt senior is going through concussion protocol. It’s unclear when he will have a chance to return.

“There’s a protocol there that we go through, and I think it’s right to do it,” Claeys said. “It’s the safest thing to do. When he gets through that, then he’ll return to play.”

Redshirt junior Conor Rhoda will make his first career start in place of Leidner against the Terrapins.

Rhoda has two career pass attempts to his name: a six-yard completion to wide receiver Hunter Register in a 58-28 over Indiana State earlier this season and one attempt against Iowa in 2014.

“We’re going to get together, watch film, get [Rhoda] prepared. He’s excited. I saw the big smile on his face,” said senior wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky. “Obviously we’re going to miss Mitch out there, but he’ll still be at practice, coaching Rhoda up.”

Leidner was not made available to reporters after the 14-7 loss to Iowa on Saturday. It was the first time the quarterback had not spoken to the media after a game all season.

Claeys said on Sunday Leidner was not banged up and never would have gone back into the game if he thought he had a concussion.

On Tuesday, Claeys said he found out shortly after he spoke to reporters on Sunday that Leidner would need to go through concussion protocol.

It isn’t known when Leidner suffered the concussion against Iowa, Claeys said.

“He didn’t show any symptoms until after the game in the locker room,” Claeys said. “All of the officials have the authority to stop the game, if they notice anything. Nobody on our sidelines [noticed anything].”

Leidner will not play on Saturday if he does not pass concussion protocol, Claeys said.

This will be the first time in 27 games Leidner will not be the starting quarterback for Minnesota. The last game he missed was against San Jose State on Sept. 20, 2014.

Wolitarsky said Leidner has remained positive and will still be at practice helping and leading.

“He’s always a positive spirit. I respect that about him,” Wolitarsky said.

Leidner has been a team captain for the past three seasons. Redshirt senior linebacker Nick Rallis said he isn’t concerned about the potential loss in leadership.

“There’s a lot of leaders on this team, so it’s nothing to worry about,” Rallis said. “From the offensive side, if [Leidner’s] not practicing, I’m sure the quarterback stepping in there will do a great job leading them … It’s nothing to worry about.”

Last year, sophomore Demry Croft was listed as the backup to Leidner for the majority of the season. He saw action in three games, throwing 17 attempts and completing seven of them.

Claeys said the team is attempting to redshirt Croft this season but he is now listed as the backup to Rhoda on the depth chart.

“We’ll practice and Connor will start, and we’ll do what he can do best along with everybody else, and their strong points,” Claeys said. “That’s what we’ll emphasize and go to battle.”


-Right tackle Jonah Pirsig is listed as out for the Maryland game and may miss two to three weeks, Claeys said. Pirsig has made 23 straight starts.

-Tight end Brandon Lingen has been cleared to play and is listed as the third-string tight end on the most recent depth chart.

-Saturday’s game will be the second ever matchup between Minnesota and Maryland and the first time the schools will play each other as Big Ten schools.