The Great Debate

Minnesota rotated in two different quarterbacks in their game last night against Syracuse, so we take a look at the quarterback situation for next season

It was very evident last night in the Texas Bowl against Syracuse, that teams will load up the box and force Minnesota to beat them other than just running the ball. The duo of Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner struggled in this game. Leidner was the more impressive of the two by throwing for 205 yards on 11-22 passing and 2 touchdown strikes as well. Nelson didn't look comfortable as he went 2-7 for only 18 yards.

Both quarterbacks ran the ball with Leidner carrying the ball 13 times for 24 yards, but taking some bad sacks while Nelson had two rushes for 14 yards. However, neither really stood out to me. Nelson has been dinged up all season and even missed a few games this year, but has more experience out of the two. Leidner on the otherhand got this offense rolling and put Minnesota in a position to win this game. We take a look at the quarterback situation for next season.

Gopher sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson this season was 94-186 for 1,306 yards with a completion rate of 50.5%. He had also thrown for 9 touchdowns and had 6 interceptions. In a running oriented offense, he was used to carry the ball 93 times for 364 yards and 6 rushing scores. In the second quarter of games, he was 33-50 for 495 yards and 6 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions. However, in the fourth quarter he was a miserable 19-47 for 299 yards and a passing touchdown along with 2 interceptions. Nelson showed statically this year that he performed in the first half over the second half, which can be concerning when there isn't a big lead to play with. Accuracy has been a big thing for Nelson and he will need to sharpen that in no order to lock down the starting quarterback position.

The backup freshman quarterback in Mitch Leidner got two starts this year against San Jose State and Michigan with Nelson out those games. He finished the season 43-78 passing for 619 yards with a completion rate of 55.1%. He also threw 3 touchdown passes and a interception. A lot of the damage he did against opposing defense came from his legs as he carried the ball 102 times for 407 yards and 7 rushing touchdowns. In the bowl game, Leidner seemed to have better control of this offense and moved the ball more effectively. The main thing Leidner will need to work on is his decision making and knowing when to throw it away and not take a bad sack.

The X-factor that people will have to watch out for is early enrollee quarterback Dimonic McKinzy. The 6-0, 200-pound senior signal caller sits as the No. 44 quarterback in the nation and a three star commit by Scout.com. He picked the Gophers over Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas. McKinzy in his high school career was 464-781 for 7,721 yards with 84 passing touchdowns and 46 interceptions. Not only was he successful through the air, but also with his legs in his high school career by rushing 336 times for 2,307 yards with 32 rushing scores. He differs from Nelson and Leidner in his running style by being more faster and more elusive along with keeping plays alive longer. When I asked him on what he has improved on his final year and what he still needs to work on, he repiled, "I would say reading my defense before each play has improved and my timing with my receivers has improved along with my quick decision making. Overall, I'm honestly working on all areas to increase my level of play as a mobile quarterback." It will be very interesting to see how quickly he can pick up this offense, but he is very eager to win the job and bring immediate success.

In a offense that has a good running back and solid defense, it is important whoever the quarterback is that they take care of the ball and do not force anything. I am not saying Minnesota needs a Alex Smith type quarterback behind center, but they just don't need a huge risk taker when you have that ability to pick up the yards on the ground. The Gophers return most of their offensive linemen, a young wide receiver unit that gained confidence and experience this year and have a solid tight end in Maxx Williams to throw to. Not to be forgotten, but a guy that Minnesota coaches raved about in the summer before he redshirted from his injury was Berkley Edwards, who will bring the speed that kills and add another dimension to this offense. This will probably be a battle that last deep into camp unless someone separates themselves from the pack. We will just have to wait and see.


Gopher Illustrated Top Stories

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In a offense that has a good running back and solid defense, it is important whoever the quarterback is that they take care of the ball and do not force anything. I am not saying Minnesota needs a Alex Smith type quarterback behind center, but they just don't need a huge risk taker when you have that ability to pick up the yards on the ground. The Gophers return most of their offensive linemen, a young wide receiver unit that gained confidence and experience this year and have a solid tight end in Maxx Williams to throw to. Not to be forgotten, but a guy that Minnesota coaches raved about in the summer before he redshirted from his injury was Berkley Edwards, who will bring the speed that kills and add another dimension to this offense. This will probably be a battle that last deep into camp unless someone separates themselves from the pack. We will just have to wait and see.

","mobileBody":"

It was very evident last night in the Texas Bowl against Syracuse, that teams will load up the box and force Minnesota to beat them other than just running the ball. The duo of Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner struggled in this game. Leidner was the more impressive of the two by throwing for 205 yards on 11-22 passing and 2 touchdown strikes as well. Nelson didn't look comfortable as he went 2-7 for only 18 yards.

Both quarterbacks ran the ball with Leidner carrying the ball 13 times for 24 yards, but taking some bad sacks while Nelson had two rushes for 14 yards. However, neither really stood out to me. Nelson has been dinged up all season and even missed a few games this year, but has more experience out of the two. Leidner on the otherhand got this offense rolling and put Minnesota in a position to win this game. We take a look at the quarterback situation for next season.

Gopher sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson this season was 94-186 for 1,306 yards with a completion rate of 50.5%. He had also thrown for 9 touchdowns and had 6 interceptions. In a running oriented offense, he was used to carry the ball 93 times for 364 yards and 6 rushing scores. In the second quarter of games, he was 33-50 for 495 yards and 6 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions. However, in the fourth quarter he was a miserable 19-47 for 299 yards and a passing touchdown along with 2 interceptions. Nelson showed statically this year that he performed in the first half over the second half, which can be concerning when there isn't a big lead to play with. Accuracy has been a big thing for Nelson and he will need to sharpen that in no order to lock down the starting quarterback position.

The backup freshman quarterback in Mitch Leidner got two starts this year against San Jose State and Michigan with Nelson out those games. He finished the season 43-78 passing for 619 yards with a completion rate of 55.1%. He also threw 3 touchdown passes and a interception. A lot of the damage he did against opposing defense came from his legs as he carried the ball 102 times for 407 yards and 7 rushing touchdowns. In the bowl game, Leidner seemed to have better control of this offense and moved the ball more effectively. The main thing Leidner will need to work on is his decision making and knowing when to throw it away and not take a bad sack.

The X-factor that people will have to watch out for is early enrollee quarterback Dimonic McKinzy. The 6-0, 200-pound senior signal caller sits as the No. 44 quarterback in the nation and a three star commit by Scout.com. He picked the Gophers over Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas. McKinzy in his high school career was 464-781 for 7,721 yards with 84 passing touchdowns and 46 interceptions. Not only was he successful through the air, but also with his legs in his high school career by rushing 336 times for 2,307 yards with 32 rushing scores. He differs from Nelson and Leidner in his running style by being more faster and more elusive along with keeping plays alive longer. When I asked him on what he has improved on his final year and what he still needs to work on, he repiled, \"I would say reading my defense before each play has improved and my timing with my receivers has improved along with my quick decision making. Overall, I'm honestly working on all areas to increase my level of play as a mobile quarterback.\" It will be very interesting to see how quickly he can pick up this offense, but he is very eager to win the job and bring immediate success.

Next years college football goals... Win 9 or more games, win a bowl game... Have a great freshman season contributing to team!#GopherNation

— Dimonic RodenMckinzy (@D_Mckinzy1) December 28, 2013

In a offense that has a good running back and solid defense, it is important whoever the quarterback is that they take care of the ball and do not force anything. I am not saying Minnesota needs a Alex Smith type quarterback behind center, but they just don't need a huge risk taker when you have that ability to pick up the yards on the ground. The Gophers return most of their offensive linemen, a young wide receiver unit that gained confidence and experience this year and have a solid tight end in Maxx Williams to throw to. Not to be forgotten, but a guy that Minnesota coaches raved about in the summer before he redshirted from his injury was Berkley Edwards, who will bring the speed that kills and add another dimension to this offense. This will probably be a battle that last deep into camp unless someone separates themselves from the pack. We will just have to wait and see.

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