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Minnesota Football: Mitch Leidner Best Gopher QB In Team History #TBT

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The not so great history of Gopher QB's has been written about on TDG back in 2011 and by Reusse as recently as this January. With Mitch playing in his last couple games let's look at this again.

MITCH!
MITCH!
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

I know you all want to get MAD ONLINE but here is a simple fact: Mitch Leidner is in conversation to be the best the program has ever had. I will throw out stats for the 17 most consequential Minnesota QBs since 1937. NOTE: Bobby Cox (1956-1957) should also be on this list but I can't find reliable stats for him. Since there are no stats for throwing a spiral, I expect the comments section will be filled with people agreeing with me.

Bold = program QB record holder.

\

QB Pass Yards Pass % Pass TDs INTs Rush Yards AVG YPC Rush TD Wins
Harold VanEvery (1937-1939) ? 37.5 ? 5 1261 ? 12 15
Sandy Stephens (1959-1961) 1571 33.7 13 27 888 3.9 17 18
John Hankinson (1964-1965) 2567 50.3 17 22 318 1.7 10 10
Craig Curry (1970-1971) 3006 44.7 15 22 675 3.17 13 7
Tony Dungy (1973-1976) 3515 46.8 25 35 1165 2.8 16 23
Mark Carlson (1977-1979) 3103 57.2 17 21 -123 -1 1 16
Mike Hohensee (1981-1982) 4792 54.3 33 31 63 0.5 5 4
Rickey Foggie (1984-1987) 4903 46.5 33 32 2038 4 24 23
Marquel Fleetwood (1989-1992) 5279 51.3 18 41 875 2.6 15 18
Tim Schade (1993-1994) 3986 51.4 22 43 31 0.5 2 7
Cory Sauter (1994-1997) 6834 57 40 34 -226 LOL -0.9 8 14
Billy Cockerham (1996-1999) 3483 52 29 24 1280 3.8 12 20
Asad Abdul-Khaliq (2000-2003) 6660 56.9 55 25 1158 4.1 16 28
Bryan Cupito (2003-2006) 7446 55.9 55 25 3 0 0 20
Adam Weber  (2007-2010) 10917 57 72 51 873 2.2 10 17
Mitch Leidner (2013-2016) 7000 57 34 28 1423 3.4 32 30

Quick notes.

  • Harold VanEvery (and the rest of college football) only played 8 game schedules back in the day. Also because recording keeping from the 1930s is spotty, I don't know exactly how many TDs young Harold threw or ran for (he accounted for 12 total in his career). He was drafted by Green Bay in 1940 and despite playing mostly as a tailback threw 71 career NFL passes.
  • Pass interference was almost never called in games of yesteryear which is why interceptions are so high compared to the more recent QBs.
  • Sandy Stephens was drafted in 1962 in the 2nd round by the Cleveland Browns (poor guy) but never played a game in the NFL or AFL.
  • John Hankinson was drafted in the 8th round by the Vikings in 1965. He also never played in the NFL.
  • Craig Curry was drafted in 1972 by Miami in the 8th round. If you guessed "Craig never played in the NFL" you'd be right.
  • I was too lazy to parse out when in 1994 Cory Sauter played vs Billy Cockerham, so both awarded both credit for the teams 3 victories that season.
  • Mike Hohensee is the last Gopher QB to play in the NFL. Because of his pedestrian numbers at Minnesota he was not drafted, but was picked up by Chicago as a scab and started for 2 games in 1987.
  • I'm certain Cory Sauter's rush yards would be better if sack's weren't included in there. But still /cry laughing emoji.
  • Bryan Cupito only threw 1 pass (incomplete) in 2003 while Asad played every other snap so I awarded that seasons 10 wins to AAK.
  • At 57.2% Mark Carlson (1977-1979) holds the completion percentage record for Minnesota. He is included in the other table below.
  • Adam Weber 82 total TDs is more prolific than Mitch's 66, but those two are significantly ahead of the rest.
  • Mitch is tied for 4th in program history for rushing touchdowns for a player of any position.

Adam, Asad, and Mitch have the most similar numbers. It's hard to not give the nod to Mitch having the better career as he won more games (with two still to play!). It will truly be interesting to see what Mitch does in the NFL, literally the bar is so low for him, all he needs to do is get drafted and/or start a game, and he will be the most successful pro player at his position in 30 years.

Quarterback John Hankinson (16) hands off to fullback Fred Farthing for good straight-ahead yardage against Nebraska. 1965.


So if you're paying attention the Gophers do not have a strong history of elite QB play. Asad Abdul-Khaliq, Adam Weber, and Mitch Leidner are all in the conversation for best modern Minnesota Quarterback, but really it's just Mitch.