Having already chalked up 16 starts and 22 game appearances in his career thus far, Mitch Leidner was considered the frontrunner to take the reigns as Minnesota's starting quarterback in 2015. With a steady and solid performance over the Gophers' 15 spring practices, Leidner maintained his spot as the projected No. 1 under center once the season kicks off on September 3rd. The real competition looks to be behind him for the back-up job, as Chris Streveler and Jacques Perra battled it out all spring and only a thumb injury to Perra really prevented things from getting interesting during the last third of Gopher spring ball. Barring any crazy turn of events over the course of fall camp, Leidner will be running Minnesota's offense this season, but the competition behind him should continue to battle throughout fall camp.
Spring surprise: Streveler's increased accuracy
Many Gopher fans will remember the San Jose State win last year where Minnesota won despite only completing one pass from their quarterback Chris Streveler. While speed and his rugged running style have been strengths of Streveler, his accuracy through the air has been a knock throughout his young career. Throughout Minnesota's 15 spring practices it was clear that Streveler took a step forward from last fall as he was more accurate whether it was from the pocket or on the run. For the Illinois native to firmly grab a hold of that back up position, he needs to keep right on the progression curve throughout the fall and into the season.
Question that still needs answering: Leidner's accuracy on a consistent basis
Ultimately, the biggest key to the Gophers success in the 2015 season rests solely on the shoulders of it's quarterback. From game to game last season, fans never knew which Leidner was going to show up. If it was going to be the quarterback who dismantled Iowa for four touchdowns and a completion percentage over 75%, or the quarterback against Wisconsin who completed under 30% for under 100 yards passing. If Leidner can even find a nice middle point between those two appearances and also cut down on his fumbles, Minnesota has a very serious chance to compete for the Big Ten West division title this fall.
What does the future hold at quarterback?
Leidner is far and away the most experienced signal caller of the bunch, and he's finally just becoming an upperclassman starter at Minnesota heading into 2015. Streveler is only a redshirt sophomore, and Croft is a true freshman. That means I expect Leidner to be the starter for the next two years barring a serious regression or injury, with Streveler and Croft battling it out for the back-up position. If something does happen to Leidner, expect Streveler to get the nod with his rugged style and speed in this read-option offense. Croft should be redshirted to give young freshman some time to develop his body in the weight room with Coach Klein and to learn the Gopher offense. Perra earned some rave reviews on the practice field last year after working exclusively with the scout team, but I expect Croft to pass him going forward. 2016 quarterback commit Tony Poljan is another I expect to firmly compete for the starting job once Leidner graduates.
Projected depth chart:
1 - Mitch Leidner (6-4, 230), RJr.
2 - Chris Streveler (6-2, 227), RSo.
3 - Demry Croft (6-5, 200), Fr.
4 - Jacques Perra (6-3, 220), RFr.
Fall Camp Primer: Quarterbacks
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