Kill should stick with Streveler against Michigan

Chris Streveler shows competency against San Jose State

by David Nelson

Despite the laughable fact that the fans at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday had the same number of passing yards as the Gophers did through almost the whole game, redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Streveler might have played his way into the starting spot.

Unlike redshirt sophomore Mitch Leidner’s first collegiate start, Streveler’s didn’t feature four rushing touchdowns or multiple completed passes — unless throwing one to the other team counts.

But Streveler did show some poise in the pocket and seemed to spark a Gophers offense that had been turbulent through the first three games of the season.

Streveler rushed for 161 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. He only went 1-for-7 throwing the ball, as many of his throws were on target but broken up by nice plays from San Jose State’s defense.

With Leidner’s health still in question heading into the Gophers’ conference opener at Michigan this weekend, it would be wise to leave Streveler in the starting role.

Although perhaps it would be a little unfair to throw the 19-year-old Streveler to the Wolverines after making his first start against a substantially less established team, his command of the offense seemed evident over the course of the game.

That’s something that an offense averaging 99.8 yards per game through the air desperately needs.

It’s cliché to say the backup quarterback is the most popular guy on the team when the starter is struggling, but in this situation, it can be argued that Streveler might be better than Leidner at this point in this season.

Yes, I’m saying the guy who just went 1-for-7 passing is better than the guy who helped lead the Gophers to a bowl game last year.

Streveler provided the same spark to the offense against the Spartans as Leidner did last season.

Though Streveler’s day wasn’t perfect, the quarterback showed poise that should give head coach Jerry Kill reason to believe he can bring it against 100,000 screaming fans wearing maize and blue in Ann Arbor, Mich., next weekend.

“His confidence is always high, whether he has 100 passing yards or no passing yards,” senior running back David Cobb said. “He has a lot of confidence, and we believe in him.”

Kill and Streveler both acknowledged the lack of passing attempts in their press conferences and said the reason for it stemmed from success with the read option.

However, don’t expect Michigan’s defense to be as giving as the Spartans.

It would be ignorant to believe the Gophers will ask Streveler to throw only seven passes against a team that last year ranked in the top half of the Big Ten in rushing defense and second in turnover margin.

The Battle for the Little Brown Jug has been incredibly one-sided over the last couple of years.

But based on Streveler’s performance, Kill should stick with him one more week to try to change that.