Is there hope on D? I think so!

GoldenRowpher

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The losses from the 2019 defense were substantial and left this years squad to replace 7 starters. In that group were 4 NFL draft picks and 2 vocal leaders in Barber and DeLattiboudere. AWjr and Coughlin were 2 of the best defenders this program has had in the last 20 years. Add that to a surging Kamal Martin who finally had it click his senior year and Chris Williamson who played a crucial role in our defense as a box defender and a guy who could lock down the opponents best slot receiver. That group was special. They also lost Teague at NG who has flashed run stopping ability and Oliver at LB who played meaningful snaps. 2 spring practices and limited fall camp with guys in and out with Covid put them in a tough spot. Not only do you lack in game experience but your practice time has been greatly impacted. Yes this is the same for all the big ten teams, but I strongly believe it had a big impact on this years team. This D isn't just one of the worst in the Big Ten I think its one of the worst in the country. Now let's look at the positives as the 2019 and 2020 classes are showing promise. The 2021 class also has some guys who are rated and thought of very highly.

Defenders who have shown promise in the 2019 class: (RS Freshman)
Cheney #44 DT
James Gordon #13
LB has flashed but hasn't graded out well.
Carter #99 DT Could be a well above average player by the time he is done.
MJ Anderson #3 DE Has impressed as a pass rusher but struggled with holding the edge on run plays. Love his long term potential.
Logan Richter #96 NG Massive guy with good feet. Flashed against Purdue. Needs more PT and and needs to get stronger. Could be what the doctor ordered in clogging up the running lanes.
Tyler Nubin #27 DB I had high hopes entering the year that this guy was going to be an instant impact type, but it just hasn't clicked yet. He looks the part from a size and speed standpoint, but the blown coverages and bad angles are cause for concern. Experience will help and I hope he can take a step forward next year
Donald Willis #20 LB Plays well on special teams, but need to get bigger and stronger if he wants to play more snaps in the Big Ten.

2020 Class: True Freshman and the staff loves this class
Tank Brown #19 LB Sounds like an academic red shirt, but the sky is the limit for this guy!
Jah Joyner #90 DE Super athletic and long. High upside but it will take time.
Quan Burns #15 LB Sounds like he had covid and missed most of fall camp, but I think he's getting up to speed now. IMG recruit with speed. Needs a year to bulk but he could be fun to watch in a few years.
Danny Striggow #92 DE Great wrestler in high school. Iowa really wanted him so that should tell you something.
Jalen Logan-Redding #97 DE Played Friday and didn't flash, but the size is there.
Gage Keys #17 DE Really big former basketball player. Needs time and might end up moving inside.
Michael Dixon #11 S Flashed vs Iowa but it sounds like the Covid may have bit him. Good size and speed. Bright future!
Lucas Finnessey #46 LB He was an all state DB in high school at 6'3 230-240. Super athletic but he still needs to learn the position. It may never click, but I love the potential.
Jalen Glaze #12 S I think he could be in for a bright future. Loves to hit and has good coverage ability. He had an appendectomy early in camp and has just started to practice again.
Miles Flemming #6 CB Had a late Michigan offer come in. Played lots of QB in high school. Should see action next year.
Cody Lindenberg #45 LB Started game 1 as a true freshman which is super cool regardless of the situation. Played a lot in the secondary in high school. Still needs to grow and learn the position. Loads of potential.

2021 Class: Get Excited!!!!
Avante Dickerson CB: Consensus 4 star and a high one at that. The dude is fast! Needs to add bulk and will be here in the spring.
Deven Eastern DE/DT: Consensus 4 star and listed at 6'6 280. Mike Morris is his trainer. The Shakopee star is nimble for his size and will only get stronger. Might need to move inside. Needs to play lower. He will also be here in the spring.
Steven Ortiz CB: Meet our future nickel corner from AZ. The consensus 4 star is not afraid to hit you. Shows great instincts.
Jacob Shuster NG: Meet your run stuffer out of Washington. Comp a taller Steven Richardson.
Devon Williams LB: Rossi targeted him early and flipped him from Kentucky. He will be here in the spring.
Austin Booker DE: Great frame at 6'6 235. When he adds bulk and strength watch out!
Justin Walley CB: His brother plays for Mississippi state and Fleck was still able to get him to row the boat. Great athlete and looked the part his senior year. He will also be here in the spring.
Darius Green S: From Georgia and plays top competition. He will hit you and plays a lot in the box. Not the biggest kid but is a hard worker and will add the strength he needs. Coverage ability is getting better. One of the best players on a really good high school team.

I'm bullish on the future of the D. It looks ugly now, but in a few years it could be a strength. Fleck needs to keep his assistants on that side of the ball around and good things will happen. You can't have a new DL and DB coach every year!
I strongly believe the talent is there for future success. Less class attrition will also greatly help. The D-line will soon be a strength and the backers should come around. Next year should be better and the year after that things should click.
Row The Boat!
 
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fmlizard

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Sure there's hope. In 2018 the Gophers were just about as bad as this on D, and by end of year Wisconsin was going for garbage TDs to save face at Camp Randall. Things change fast.
 

Face The Facts

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The losses from the 2019 defense were substantial and left this years squad to replace 7 starters. In that group were 4 NFL draft picks and 2 vocal leaders in Barber and DeLattiboudere. AWjr and Coughlin were 2 of the best defenders this program has had in the last 20 years. Add that to a surging Kamal Martin who finally had it click his senior year and Chris Williamson who played a crucial role in our defense as a box defender and a guy who could lock down the opponents best slot receiver. That group was special. They also lost Teague at NG who has flashed run stopping ability and Oliver at LB who played meaningful snaps. 2 spring practices and limited fall camp with guys in and out with Covid put them in a tough spot. Not only do you lack in game experience but your practice time has been greatly impacted. Yes this is the same for all the big ten teams, but I strongly believe it had a big impact on this years team. This D isn't just one of the worst in the Big Ten I think its one of the worst in the country. Now let's look at the positives as the 2019 and 2020 classes are showing promise. The 2021 class also has some guys who are rated and thought of very highly.

Defenders who have shown promise in the 2019 class: (RS Freshman)
Cheney #44 DT
James Gordon #13
LB has flashed but hasn't graded out well.
Carter #99 DT Could be a well above average player by the time he is done.
MJ Anderson #3 DE Has impressed as a pass rusher but struggled with holding the edge on run plays. Love his long term potential.
Logan Richter #96 NG Massive guy with good feet. Flashed against Purdue. Needs more PT and and needs to get stronger. Could be what the doctor ordered in clogging up the running lanes.
Tyler Nubin #27 DB I had high hopes entering the year that this guy was going to be an instant impact type, but it just hasn't clicked yet. He looks the part from a size and speed standpoint, but the blown coverages and bad angles are cause for concern. Experience will help and I hope he can take a step forward next year
Donald Willis #20 LB Plays well on special teams, but need to get bigger and stronger if he wants to play more snaps in the Big Ten.

2020 Class: True Freshman and the staff loves this class
Tank Brown #19 LB Sounds like an academic red shirt, but the sky is the limit for this guy!
Jah Joyner #90 DE Super athletic and long. High upside but it will take time.
Quan Burns #15 LB Sounds like he had covid and missed most of fall camp, but I think he's getting up to speed now. IMG recruit with speed. Needs a year to bulk but he could be fun to watch in a few years.
Danny Striggow #92 DE Great wrestler in high school. Iowa really wanted him so that should tell you something.
Jalen Logan-Redding #97 DE Played Friday and didn't flash, but the size is there.
Gage Keys #17 DE Really big former basketball player. Needs time and might end up moving inside.
Michael Dixon #11 S Flashed vs Iowa but it sounds like the Covid may have bit him. Good size and speed. Bright future!
Lucas Finnessey #46 LB He was an all state DB in high school at 6'3 230-240. Super athletic but he still needs to learn the position. It may never click, but I love the potential.
Jalen Glaze #12 S I think he could be in for a bright future. Loves to hit and has good coverage ability. He had an appendectomy early in camp and has just started to practice again.
Miles Flemming #6 CB Had a late Michigan offer come in. Played lots of QB in high school. Should see action next year.
Cody Lindenberg #45 LB Started game 1 as a True freshman which is super cool regardless of the situation. Played a lot in the secondary in high school. Still needs to grow and learn the position. Loads of potential.

2021 Class: Get Excited!!!!
Avante Dickerson CB: Consensus 4 star and a high one at that. The dude is fast! Needs to add bulk and will be here in the spring.
Deven Eastern DE/DT: Consensus 4 star and listed at 6'6 280. Mike Morris is his trainer. The Shakopee star is nimble for his size and will only get stronger. Hight need to move inside. Needs to play lower. He will also be here in the spring.
Steven Ortiz CB: Meet our future nickel corner from AZ. The consensus 4 star is not afraid to hit you. Shows great instincts.
Jacob Shuster NG: Meet your run stuffer out of Washington. Comp a taller Steven Richardson.
Devon Williams LB: Rossi targeted him early and flipped him from Kentucky. He will be here in the spring.
Austin Booker DE: Great frame at 6'6 235. When he adds bulk and strength watch out!
Justin Walley CB: His brother plays for Mississippi state and Fleck was still able to get him to row the boat. Great athlete and looked the part his senior year. He will also be here in the spring.
Darius Green S: From Georgia and plays top competition. He will hit you and plays a lot in the box. Not the biggest kid but is a hard worker and will add the strength he needs. Coverage ability is getting better. One of the best players on a really good high school team.

I'm bullish on the future of the D. It looks ugly now, but in a few years it could be a strength. Fleck needs to keep his assistants on that side of the ball around and good things will happen. You can't have a new DL and DB coach every year!
I strongly believe the talent is there for future success. Less class attrition will also greatly help. The D-line will soon be a strength and the backers should come around. Next year should be better and the year after that things should click.
Row The Boat!
There's no question the future looks bright.

It seems like the people being extra critical are just trying to get a shot at PJ in before his next round of NFL talent is produced.

Far easier for people to just complain rather than do the research to see what might be out there.
 

#2Gopher

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Great update GoldenRowpher. Future does look pretty good. We just need to be patient and look at the facts as to what we're dealing with.
 

60's Guy

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Like the optimism and agree we will probably be better on defense next year.:unsure:
 

proudgopher

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Excellent summary. I agree optimism is warranted on D. I just hope we can get more depth on the OL next year. Losing several top instate OL recruits leaves a sour taste with me.
 

A_Slab_of_Bacon

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Good read.

I also suspect with the guys we are playing that I'm seeing them play better. Stats might not be playing out that way entirely game to game but I'm seeing what I think are more 1:1 tackles, fewer what look like missed assignments and etc.

And hey they shutdown a game last game.
 

PMWinSTP

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It's a pretty safe bet. reference to 2018 is a bit of a cop-out since the talent was clearly there...the scheme sucked.
 
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