There’s no quarterback controversy with the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Or so says head coach Jerry Kill. He says that his decision to start Philip Nelson at quarterback over backup Mitch Leidner on Saturday against the Iowa Hawkeyes does not create a quarterback controversy. Leidner had been playing in place of Nelson, who had hurt his hamstring in the Western Illinois Leathernecks game on September 14.
Sound familiar? Just last week, Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer was defending his decision to start the previously injured quarterback Braxton Miller over backup Kenny Guiton, who had played impressively in Miller’s absence. The same could be said about Leidner, but Kill says that he had good reasons to start Nelson over Leidner on Saturday.
Kill defended his decision to start Nelson by saying that the team was impressed with how he was playing leading up to his injury. Kill said that he is their starter, and was healthy and ready to play. Nelson’s poor performance against Iowa on Saturday is what’s raising so many questions about which quarterback Minnesota should be starting.
He was 12-for-24 in pass attempts with 135 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and was sacked four times. It was not a great return for Nelson, but it will not keep Kill from starting him in this Saturday’s game against the Michigan Wolverines.
Kill says he will not bench Nelson just for one poor performance. He does not blame him for their loss, saying the whole team could have played better. Kill would like to use both quarterbacks in the Minnesota offense from now on, but says that it will depend on the situation as to when Leidner plays.
He has to feel good having Leidner as a backup. Leidner is a good running quarterback who had 151 yards and four touchdowns in Minnesota’s win over the San Jose State Spartans on September 21.
The decision by Kill to continue starting Nelson is one that will stick. He is not going to start Leidner in place of Nelson just because of one poor performance from Nelson. Nelson had not played since September 14, so maybe he was rusty or just not in sync with the Minnesota offense. Practice will do him plenty of good this week as Minnesota heads to Ann Arbor to play Michigan on Saturday.
Nelson will need to get out of his rut and have a good game if he wants to beat an undefeated Michigan team that seems to be having its own troubles. Time will tell, but hopefully Kill has made the right decision.