Minnesota embraces bye week

The Gophers will use the week to heal before returning to Big Ten action.

Grant Donald

Quarterback Mitch Leidner took the podium after Saturday’s victory over Michigan with a more relaxed and comfortable demeanor than in previous weeks.

The redshirt sophomore returned to action against the Wolverines after a left knee injury and turf toe kept him sidelined the week before.

“It was good for me to really sit back and have a little different mindset coming back,” Leidner said.

The Gophers have had injuries at nearly every position this year, with Leidner’s receiving the most attention.

But this week, every Gophers player will have an opportunity to rest, as the team has a bye. And with the team’s numerous injuries, the time off is much needed to make sure they can heal before needing to miss game time.

“Do you worry about timing and all those kind of things? You bet,” said head coach Jerry Kill. “We’re on a role, but we need to heal up.”

Leidner threw for 167 yards and scored a touchdown on the ground Saturday; evidence shows there is no need to worry about a lingering injury.

“[The toe] was feeling good today, and it feels good right now, so hopefully we can put this all behind me,” Leidner said.

Like Leidner, redshirt sophomore tight end Maxx Williams’ status was in question heading into the Michigan game. Williams had missed the team’s previous game with an injury, but he ended up playing Saturday and caught four passes for 51 yards and a touchdown.

Senior running back David Cobb is another player who will benefit from the extra week of rest. Kill said Cobb wasn’t 100 percent at the end of the Michigan game.

“David was limped up a little bit towards the end of the game. That’s why we went to Rodrick [Williams],” Kill said. “David wanted to close the game out, and he did.”

Senior cornerback Derrick Wells suffered a hamstring injury against Michigan and left the game.

But perhaps the member of the team who will benefit most from the bye week is redshirt senior Zac Epping, Kill said.

Epping, who has been banged up — but playing — all season will have a chance to rest before the heart of the Big Ten season gets underway.

“I think [the bye week] will be huge for a lot of guys,” Leidner said. “There’s a lot of guys banged up on the squad [who] are playing through some tough injuries, so it will be big for everyone to catch their breath and get their bodies back for sure.”

 

David Nelson contributed to this report.