Halftime Report: Gophers lead San Jose State 20-17

Jack Satzinger

Minnesota hasn't scored on its first drive of a game yet this season, but showed some life early against San Jose State. The Gophers forced the Spartans to go three-and-out on their first possession of the game, then made it far enough into San Jose State territory to go for a 51-yard field goal on fourth down. It was missed wide left by kicker Chris Hawthorne, however, as Minnesota came away empty. 

The next possession showed more promise as redshirt freshman quarterback Mitch Leidner ran 23 yards on second down. Leidner is making his first career start after Philip Nelson strained his hamstring last week against Western Illinois. Later in the drive, Leidner weaved around San Jose State defenders for a 16-yard run to push the Gophers into the red zone. On the next play, he scampered into the end zone untouched to put Minnesota up 7-0. 

Differing styles
At the end of the first quarter, the Gophers still led San Jose State 7-0. Leidner had amassed an impressive 58 rushing yards, but zero passing yards on just two attempts. While Minnesota was hesitant to pass, San Jose State has looked great through the air. At the end of one, top quarterback prospect David Fales had 155 passing yards. Fales — who Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill says throws off his back foot better than anyone in the nation — made Gophers linebackers look like Alicia Silverstone in 1995: Clueless. Short misdirection passes accounted for 30-plus yards on multiple occassions.  

Fales' air supremacy didn't stop in the first quarter. Trailing 14-3 after Leidner had rushed for another touchdown, Fales threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Chandler Jones. 

Gophers receiving corps have a pulse
After losing three receivers in ten months, Minnesota's wideouts have been lifeless this season. The Gophers have used sophomore K.J. Maye in a multi-faceted role Saturday and it's paid off. The speedy receiver has two rushes for 19 yards, coming from reverses. He also is the only Gopher with a reception, one of which was a 37-yard catch from Leidner to set up Minnesota's third touchdown of the game. That came when the Gophers went for it on 4th and 1, with junior running back David Cobb running into the end zone. 

Notable Stats
-Fales has 294 passing yards already
-Leidner has run for 82 yards
-San Jose State receiver Chandler Jones has 146 receiving yards and two touchdowns
-Gophers still have not sacked Fales