A 4-0 non-conference record created the perfect build-up of hope for a Gophers football team and fanbase that thought it had a chance in the Big Ten opener against Iowa.
That hope deflated faster than than the Hindenburg as Iowa completely and utterly dominated the Gophers, 23-7 Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.
Philip Nelson, who hadn't played in nearly two weeks, got the start at quarterback for the Gophers. He usurped the job from redshirt freshman Mitch Leidner, who won Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors for his strong play against San Jose State the week prior.
Was starting Nelson the right decision?
"Philip was our first-team quarterback, and he played well until he got hurt," head coach Jerry Kill told the Star Tribune. "And then we have the guy who’s his backup (Leidner) come in, and he does a good job, gets us some wins. But Philip comes back, and he’s healthy and ready to go. So we play him, and I get all these quarterback questions. That kind of amazes me.
"A guy loses his job if the other guy’s playing three times better than he was when he got hurt. And so we’ve got two good quarterbacks, and both of them have already had an impact on our season, and we’re 4-1, and they’ll continue to have an impact on our season. I guess that’s the best way I can put it."
In an interview with the Pioneer Press, Kill said Leidner could "have went in there and changed the whole game and lit it up."
Leidner never got the opportunity, and that's a decision Kill says he's paid to make.
Kill added that pulling Nelson just to make a change wouldn't help the confidence of the entire team, so he chose not to make the switch.