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Injury policy doesn't guarantee starting spots back for Nelson, Kirkwood

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The Big Ten season arrives Saturday afternoon when the Gophers host the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Stealing back the Floyd of the Rosedale is the goal, and the man leading the charge for Minnesota will likely be redshirt freshman quarterback, Mitch Leidner.

The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week is expected to make his second career start in place of Philip Nelson, whose sore hamstring could keep him sideline again, according to the Pioneer Press.

The challenge the Gophers and Leidner will likley face against Iowa is developing a requisite passing game. Minnesota's 105.2 passing yards per game ranks 118th out of 120 FBS teams.

Leidner will no doubt be asked to run the ball out of the read-option offense, but when he's not carrying the ball, who will be?

David Cobb rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns against San Jose State. The performance left No. 1 running back Donnell Kirkwood wondering if he had lost his starting job because of an ankle sprain.

While a starting running back hasn't been announced for the Big Ten opener, it would seem Kirkwood is right.

“Those kids know in our player policy manual that if you get injured and somebody replaces you, and they’re playing better than you when you get healthy, then you got to beat them back out," defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys told WCCO. “I think that’s why Donnell is working his butt off because the other two are playing well, and he knows that to get his spot back he has to perform better than them.”

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