The Quarterback Controversy in Minnesota
After barely squeaking out non-conference wins against Colorado State and Kent State in consecutive weeks, it looks as thought the Minnesota Gophers football team could be preparing to go a different direction at the quarterback position.
True freshman quarterback Demry Croft has been splitting first team reps with Mitch Leidner this week and has been the more polished of the two players, according to a source with knowledge of team activity. The flashes Croft has been showing in practice, coupled with the excruciating incompetence of the offense thus far, makes pulling his redshirt a likely move come Saturday, despite it being a move that Jerry Kill has been trying to avoid.
Croft earned high praise from his coaches during training camp and has a big arm despite his slender frame. At 6’5” and 200 lbs., he may not quite pass the eye test, however, the athletic ability and arm talent he brings to the table might be enough to turn things around for a pitiful Gophers offense.
In three games Minnesota has mustered just 50 points, good for 241st in major college football. The low point came last Saturday against Kent State, however, as the Mitch Leidner led attack was only able to put up ten points at home against the same team Illinois beat 52-3 just two weeks prior. As inefficient as the passing game has been, it is not the only question mark for Minnesota. Injuries on the offensive line and the inability to replace David Cobb has caused a once intimidating run game to fall to 96th in the nation. The lack of run production emphasized Leidner’s vulnerability in the pocket and took away a play-action passing attack that accounted for several big plays last season. Croft’s aptitude for mobility and his capability to make a variety of throws should pay dividends for the running attack as well as the passing game.
The absence of potent offense has yet to bury the Gophers in the standings, as they are still above the .500 mark. However, winning consistently in the Big 10 will require a much higher level of offensive prowess. Although a final decision may not come until game day, a change at the quarterback position may be the jolt that this team needs to accomplish their goals of winning the Big Ten West Division. Look for Mitch Leidner to be on a short leash against the Ohio Bobcats.