Passing grade: Leidner improvement guides increased balance for Gophers offense

Minnesota is built around a power running attack, with sound defense and special teams to back it up.

The Gophers were even good enough one afternoon last month to beat San Jose State by three scores while completing only one pass. Mitch Leidner missed that game with injuries, and since he's returned there have been signs that the Gophers can throw the ball effectively.

The key is those crisp play-action fakes to draw the defense toward running back David Cobb and find the open receiver. Isaac Fruechte and Maxx Williams were frequent targets last week in a 24-17 win over Northwestern.

Minnesota (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) hosts Purdue (3-4, 1-2) on Saturday.

The Boilermakers gave Michigan State a scare last week in a 45-31 loss to the eighth-ranked Spartans.