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Uncertainty not an issue for Minnesota QBs

There may be uncertainty at quarterback for Minnesota, but it's only temporary.

The Gophers aren't short on confidence in backup Chris Streveler, who they've already seen win a game as the starter, piling up rushing yards and showing more than a few similarities to starter Mitch Leidner in the process.

But whenever Leidner is healthy, coach Jerry Kill has made it quite clear that his pecking order won't change -- and he'll get no argument from Streveler.

"Quarterback controversy? There's no positive in something like that for a team in a season like this," Streveler told ESPN.com. "Mitch has done a great job, great guy, great quarterback, great leader, so that's why it's easy to stand behind him.

"All the guys stand behind him, and if he's ready to go, he's going to lead us. But if he can't go, then I'm going to step in there and do the best job I can."

The Gophers have needed Streveler to come off the bench a couple times already this season with Leidner dealing with turf toe and a knee issue, including those same injuries forcing him to the sideline for all of last week's 24-7 win against San Jose State.

That opened the door for Streveler to make his first start, and while the passing attack was almost nonexistent with just one completion in seven attempts, the rushing game didn't miss a beat as the redshirt freshman racked up 161 yards and a touchdown to claim his first victory.

That outing could have been the beginning of a case to compete for the first-team job if he wanted to campaign, but the selfless Streveler has unfailingly deferred to Leidner despite impressing with his chance to run the offense last weekend. And either way, the Gophers figure to need him given the uncertainty swirling around Leidner's health, which could easily keep him out of action again this week for a critical Big Ten opener at Michigan.

"[Last week] doesn't change anything," Kill said. "First of all, we've got to get Mitch healthy, and right now that's not the case. Chris has done a great job, and I'm sure he'll have a strong preparation for this week and we'll go from there.

"They're both very similar quarterbacks, and there's not a lot we change for either one. ...It's a great situation for us to be in."

The scenario would be even more appealing if both quarterbacks were at full strength, but having a reliable, trustworthy backup capable of picking up where the starter left off is invaluable for the Gophers, particularly because of their similar skill sets.

Neither quarterback is going to light up defenses through the air, and Minnesota barely even tried to pass with Streveler under center against San Jose State. But first and foremost, Minnesota's strength is rushing the football, and Streveler shined with his playmaking ability in the zone-read and zone-power schemes while averaging nearly 9 yards per carry.

That doesn't mean he can't use his arm, and the Gophers are quick to point out there won't be many victories in conference play that include just one completed pass. But there is a belief they can keep winning games even if Leidner isn't able to quickly reclaim the starting position that's waiting for him.

And just like the depth chart, Streveler is on the same page there as well.

"It just feels good to get the win, to be honest, but it isn't a one-man effort out there," Streveler said. "Gosh, my teammates helped me out so much, the offensive line played great, [running back David] Cobb had a monster game, so I was just happy to get the 'W.'

"I don't even know if I'm going into this week as the starter. But nothing really changes for me mentally or preparation-wise. If I am starting, running with the 1s this week in practice, the only difference is reps with the No. 1 huddle. But if not, I'll be in with the No. 2 huddle and taking some mental reps. Either way, I'll be ready to go."

And whenever Leidner comes back, the Gophers will have an even more experienced backup on their hands and no threat of him stirring up a controversy.