It’s only been 48 hours since the completion of the Gophers win over Colorado State and debate over whether or not Mitch Leidner should be benched in favor of Demry Croft has already been beaten into the ground.
I’m convinced there isn’t an angle of this debate that hasn’t already been offered, chewed up, spit out, re-chewed, thrown on the ground, molded into the shape of a horse, and then beaten mercilessly.
But I’m still going to go over this again…
One suggestion that has been made, mostly in passing (see what I did there?), is that maybe there’s a play calling problem. Perhaps Matt Limegrover isn’t calling the kind of game that plays to Mitch’s strengths. Maybe Limegrover should be calling more short passes to get Mitch in a rhythm. Is there something more that the Offensive Coordinator can be doing in game planning to improve Mitch’s performance?
But let’s consider something else.
The two biggest arguments that the Mitch Leidner apologists (me) have is that OLine isn’t giving him any time to throw, and the receivers aren’t giving Mitch any help with all of the dropped balls.
I’m going to leave the OLine argument to others who know more about such things, but what about the dropped balls? I mean sure, Mitch had some awful misfires on Saturday. His overthrow of a wide open Nick Hart in the flat is the stuff of nightmares.
But the narrative seems to be that if the receivers don’t drop some of the more egregious balls, then Mitch is completing roughly 60% of his passes. And it seems to me that most of us have been in agreement that if Mitch can complete passes at a 60% clip, we’d be okay with that.
So we’re saying that if Mitch completes around 3 more passes/game, he’s the QB that Minnesota needs.
If that’s the case, if Mitch completes 3 more passes/game, then Matt Limegrover’s play calling is no longer a problem.
Maybe some of the math there is fuzzy, but I hope you get what I’m trying to say. As long as the QB isn’t playing too well, we’re going to search for any possible symptom.
Here’s the deal: does anyone remember last year’s non-conference schedule? Do you happen to recall the high-flying creativity that Matt Limegrover showed? Do you recall the complicated shifts and the absolute myriad of motions used before the snap?
How about two seasons ago? Hooks & Ladders? Deep balls galore?
What? How can that be?
Perhaps our collective memories are foggy. Or perhaps we don’t remember creative offensive play calling on the non-conference the past two years because… it didn’t happen?
Folks, we do this every year with Limegrover. We complain about the offensive play calling early in the year and then we marvel at the shifts and motions when the B1G season rolls around.
Look, I’m not saying Limegrover is an evil genius. But we do need to remember that he tends to keep things pretty simple during the non-conference schedule.
The other thing to remember is that Limegrover was the architect of an offense that put up 450 yards/game and nearly 7 yards/play at Northern Illinois in 2010. His QB that year, Chandler Harnish, averaged only 180 yards passing/game, so that offense was absolutely built on the run game.
The symptoms don’t tell the whole story.
Is Leidner going to get better? Absolutely.
Will the offensive line gel at some point? History says yes.
At some point, is Matt Limegrover going to get more creative in his play calling? You know he will.
The point is this. We’re two games into the season. We lost a very close game to a Top 5 football team, and we won on the road in a place that has been very tough for opposing teams to win. This team has been built on defense first and through two games, that defense has been fantastic.
The offense is coming along slowly, but that's not a new scenario for this football team.
Could Matt Limegrover be more creative early in the year? Sure. But we all seem to trust this staff to build the program in a slow and sustainable way. Shouldn't we trust them to build a season in the same manner?