Gophers try to rebound from loss, injuries

Last week's trip to TCU resulted in more than just a deflating loss for the Gophers. Not only did Minnesota drop a 30-7 decision -- a final margin that doesn't reflect how much the Gophers were dominated -- the injury list to key players got longer.

Last week's trip to TCU resulted in more than just a deflating loss for the Gophers.

Not only did Minnesota drop a 30-7 decision -- a final margin that doesn't reflect how much the Gophers were dominated -- the injury list to key players got longer. While this week's home game against San Jose State shouldn't be a problem for the 2-1 Gophers, the injury news isn't good considering the Big Ten season is right around the corner.

Quarterback Mitch Leidner has been banged up the last two games. He sprained his left knee against Middle Tennessee State. Leidner played with a knee brace last week but left in the fourth quarter with a toe injury. Although it was reported the toe was broken, coach Jerry Kill described Leidner's injury as turf toe.

Kill expected Leidner to practice during the week, but it's questionable whether the sophomore will play against San Jose State. Redshirt freshman Chris Streveler, who has played in all three games and threw a touchdown pass against TCU for the Gophers' only score, could get his first career start.

"He did a nice job," Kill said in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I said all along we're going to need all the depth we can get."


Running back David Cobb played last week with a sprained ankle. He was hobbled by the injury in practice last week, but Kill didn't reveal that Cobb was injured until after the game. The senior was held to 44 yards on 13 carries, a week after gaining a career-high 220 yards against Middle Tennessee State.

"He wanted to play in the game," Kill said in the Pioneer Press. "I thought he did some good things, but he wasn't full speed, and we probably shouldn't have played him, to be honest with you."

Linebacker Damien Wilson, the team's leading tackler, sustained an ankle injury in the second quarter but returned to the game. The Gophers are also dealing with injuries on the offensive and defensive lines.

Minnesota won all four nonconference games last season, but didn't play TCU on the road. The Gophers, who went 4-4 in the Big Ten, open conference play at Michigan on Sept. 27. Minnesota also plays Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin in the conference.

Kill is trying to get the point across to his players that this season's schedule is more difficult than it has been in the past.

"They have to understand that," he said in the Pioneer Press. "We're not playing the same schedule we played a year ago. It's different, so we've got to step it up a little bit."




--QB Chris Streveler, a redshirt freshman, could make his first career start against San Jose State. He replaced the injured Mitch Leidner in the fourth quarter last week and threw a 12-yard scoring pass to tight end Maxx Williams for Minnesota's only score. Streveler has also gained 56 yards on 13 carries in three games.

--CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun appears to be fully recovered from the knee injury that ended his 2013 season after two games. He had eight tackles, intercepted a pass and broke up another pass against TCU.

--TE Maxx Williams could be a game-changer if the coaches make him a bigger part of the game plan. He leads the team with two touchdown catches and has six receptions for the season, tying him for the team lead.

--P Peter Mortell was one of the few players who produced against TCU. He averaged 46.6 yards on eight kicks with a longest punt of 56 yards. Mortell had one punt inside the 20 yard-line.

SERIES HISTORY: Minnesota leads San Jose State, 2-1. Minnesota defeated San Jose State 43-24 at TCF Bank Stadium last season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It inspires the team when your leaders are sacrificing their bodies to be out there. That just says a lot about the guys we have." -- Quarterback Chris Streveler, in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, on the fact several teammates played with injuries against TCU.



Scouting the running game: The Gophers have developed depth at the running back position. That's a good thing considering David Cobb is hobbled by a sprained ankle. After running for a career-high 220 yards against Middle Tennessee State, the injury limited Cobb to 44 yards on 13 carries last week. The Gophers gained 99 net yards on the ground. Berkley Edwards, Rodrick Williams and Donnell Kirkwood will get more carries if Cobb's injury limits his playing time. Edwards and Kirkwood are dealing with shoulder injuries.

Scouting the passing game: It appears the Gophers will prepare Mitch Leidner and Chris Streveler to play against San Jose State. Leidner, who was already dealing with a sprained left knee, had the worst game of his career against TCU. He completed 12-of-26 passes and threw three interceptions before leaving with a toe injury. Streveler threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Maxx Williams in the fourth quarter. The pass protection must improve. Leidner was sacked twice and left the game after taking a hard hit.

Scouting the run defense: The Gophers have struggled stopping the run the last two weeks. Minnesota allowed 169 yards on the ground against TCU, a week after giving up 190 to Middle Tennessee State. Injuries have hit a line that didn't have much depth when the season started. Opponents are going to line up and run the ball until the Gophers prove they can stop it.

Scouting the pass defense: As was the case in all areas of the team, the pass defense was poor against TCU. The Gophers didn't record a sack and got no pressure on quarterback Trevone Boykin, who completed 27-of-46 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns. Minnesota recorded five sacks in the first two games, but didn't get close to Boykin. Cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun intercepted a pass.

Scouting the special teams: The Gophers offense struggled all day against TCU and didn't get close enough for Ryan Santoso to attempt a field goal. Punter Peter Mortell averaged 46.6 yards on eight kicks and has seven kicks of 50 yards or better in three games. Marcus Jones totaled 154 yards on returns, including a 54-yard kickoff return.

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