According to the depth chart released earlier this morning, quarterback Mitch Leidner is out with a concussion for Saturday’s game against Maryland.
There was speculation over the weekend that Mitch had suffered a concussion after taking a hit near the sideline from Iowa safety Brandon Snyder late in the game. It was a hard hit, but Mitch did not appear fazed and returned to the huddle. After the game, Claeys denied that Mitch was concussed, according to the STrib’s Joe Christensen:
Asked about rumors on message boards that Leidner had concussion symptoms after the game, Claeys said, “He never would have gone back in the game if he had a concussion. He jumped right back up and went back in and played.
“So if that is the case, they know more than I do,” Claeys added. “That’s the problem with message boards, but that’s part of life.”
Evidently the message boards did know more.
According to Claeys during his press conference this morning, Mitch did not begin showing concussion symptoms until after the game, and Claeys wasn’t briefed on the situation until Sunday afternoon.
Obviously, the optics here are very bad for Claeys. At best, there was a failure to communicate between Claeys and the medical staff after the game. At worst, the coaching staff was careless in their handling of a player with a concussion. The fact that Claeys so emphatically denied that Mitch was banged up before speaking with the medical staff paints him as a head coach out of touch with his staff.
We have no way of knowing for sure when Mitch started to show symptoms or when Claeys was first alerted to the situation, but this is a public relations blunder at the very least and not a good look for a first-year head coach.
With Mitch out, junior walk-on Conor Rhoda is listed as the starting quarterback for Saturday, with sophomore Demry Croft backing him up.
Offensive tackle Jonah Pirsig (ankle) and linebacker Cody Poock (shoulder) are also on the injury report. Pirsig is out 2-3 weeks with a high ankle sprain, and Poock is expected to miss another week with a shoulder injury suffered against Penn State.
Tight end Brandon Lingen has been cleared to play after a collarbone injury against Indiana State. Safety Duke McGhee, out last week with a concussion, is no longer listed in the injury report, so expect him to return to the field against Maryland.
Other interesting tidbits from the depth chart:
- Redshirt freshman Winston DeLattiboudere has supplanted junior Gaelin Elmore as starting defensive end.
- With Pirsig out, the offensive line has been shuffled. Donnell Greene is at left tackle, Jared Weyler is at left guard, Tyler Moore is at center, Vincent Calhoun or Connor Mayes are listed right guard, and Garrison Wright is at right tackle.
- KiAnte Hardin has re-claimed his starting spot at cornerback.
- Rashad Still has replaced Tyler Johnson as starting wide receiver. Johnson had a strong start to the season, but has been MIA the last two weeks.