MINNEAPOLIS, MN (CBS/AP) — Here are five key things to watch for when the San Jose State Spartans hit the field to face the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday morning:
GRIGSBY OUT: One problem for the Spartans will be the absence of top wide receiver Noel Grigsby. He entered the season with more career receptions than any active receiver in the country and had 10 for 106 yards and two scores in his first two games this season. But Grigsby injured his knee in practice on Wednesday and did not make the trip to Minnesota. The senior captain could miss the rest of the season.
PASS OR FALES: San Jose State’s David Fales is considered one of the top quarterback prospects in the country. Some scouts are projecting that with another strong season, Fales will be a first-round draft pick next spring. He set seven school records last season in leading the perennially struggling Spartans to 11 wins. He’s thrown for 441 yards and three touchdowns in the first two games this season and will be going against a Gophers secondary that is struggling with injuries.
QUARTERBACK QUESTIONS: Gophers starter Philip Nelson left last week’s game in the first half with an injured hamstring and is listed as questionable for the game. All signs point to redshirt freshman Mitch Leidner getting the start. Leidner went 7 for 8 for 105 yards while filling in for Nelson against Western Illinois. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder is deceptively agile as well, running the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds. He had 17 carries for 64 yards last week.
BLIND SIDE: Ben Lauer appears to have wrestled the starting left tackle job for the Gophers away from Marek Lenkiewicz. The two were listed side by side on the team’s depth chart, but coaches have become impressed by Lauer’s size, strength and tenacity. The 6-foot-6, 302-pound Lauer is a redshirt freshman from Wayzata who stepped in and played well last week.
FAST START: Gophers DE Theiren Cockran leads the Big Ten with three sacks and is tied for the league lead with five tackles for loss through three games. Cockran had two sacks last week against Western Illinois. His performance becomes more important with the Gophers struggling with injuries in the secondary. Defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun is out for the season with a knee injury and starting cornerback Derrick Wells has been playing with a sore shoulder.
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