Gophers limp away from Texas

Mitch Leidner, David Cobb and other players have nagging injuries.

Jack Satzinger

Every time Mitch Leidner dropped back to pass in Minnesota’s 30-7 loss at TCU on Saturday, pressure seemed to come from all sides. 

TCU’s talented defense sacked the Gophers quarterback multiple times, and Leidner rarely had time to cleanly get passes off.

“Games are won up front. We’ve got to do a better job up front,” Gophers head coach Jerry Kill said Sunday. “We’ve just got to do a better job of protecting when we throw the ball to let the quarterback step into things.”

Two of Leidner’s three interceptions weren’t necessarily his fault. One of his passes was picked off after being tipped into the air by a receiver. On another play, he had Maxx Williams open deep, but the ball’s path was altered when a defender got to the Gophers quarterback as he threw.

But Leidner telegraphed a pass to Donovahn Jones that TCU intercepted. He also fumbled while on the run.

“We need to make better decisions, too. I mean, you can’t fumble the ball. … That bothers me as much as anything,” Kill said.

Senior running back David Cobb also uncharacteristically fumbled Saturday and didn’t look like himself, rushing for just 41 yards after topping 200 yards the previous week.

“We knew if we were going to stop Minnesota, then we had to stop Cobb,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson told reporters after the game.

Kill later revealed that Cobb wasn’t 100 percent healthy. His ankle swelled up last weekend, and he didn’t practice the Tuesday before the game. He practiced with a limited contact green jersey Wednesday.

On Sunday, Kill said the lack of practice impacted Cobb in the game.

“I’ve got to do a better job,” Kill said. “Sometimes when they don’t practice as much, get those reps they need, you [play him] because he’s your best player. But then he’s not as sharp as he should be.”

TCU’s stellar defense, which Kill compared to Michigan State’s, contributed to Cobb’s struggles.

“The scheme that coach [Patterson] has put us in the best position to make plays. It’s as simple as that,” TCU senior linebacker Paul Dawson told reporters after the game.

Before the contest, Minnesota offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said he’d look for ways to get redshirt sophomore tight end Maxx Williams more involved. With its usually effective running game struggling, that’s exactly what the Gophers did.

Williams was targeted 11 times, but he came down with only three catches for 26 yards. His final reception came from a Chris Streveler pass for Minnesota’s only touchdown of the game.

Streveler replaced Leidner in the fourth quarter after the Gophers’ starting quarterback came up hobbled by a hit.

Kill said he was unsure if Leidner would be ready for Minnesota’s next game. But the Gophers are almost certain to have an unpleasant time looking over last week’s film.

“We aren’t playing the same schedule we played a year ago. It’s different, so we’ve got to step it up a bit. I think once they watch the film, they’ll go, ‘Oh shit,” Kill said.