COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Gophers putting bigger emphasis on pass rush in spring practices

Last season, Minnesota was 111th in the nation with only 19 sacks in 13 games.

Minnesota defensive end Danny Striggow (92) celebrates with teammates after his interception during a 34-7 win over Michigan State in a college football game in East Lansing, Mich. on Saturday, Sept. 24, 20022.
Brad Rempel / University of Minnesota Athletics via St. Paul Pioneer Press

The University of Minnesota football program is altering its practice format this spring to build in more work on pass-rush situations.

Last season, Minnesota was 111th in the nation with only 19 sacks in 13 games.

“We know that we have to get better at that; we know that is one of our deficiencies, and it has been for a while,” head coach P.J. Fleck said Tuesday. “But we’ve got some really good pass rushers now and I feel like now we can really develop them.”

The Gophers return six of their top seven players in total pressures from 2022: Jah Joyner (32), Jalen Logan-Redding (16), Kyler Baugh (13), Trill Carter (12), Danny Striggow (11) and Cody Lindenberg (9). Only senior Thomas Rush (19) has left.

PJ Fleck.jpeg
PJ Fleck

Minnesota has hired former Gophers defensive lineman Winston DeLattiboudere as its new D-line coach and former Yale and Connecticut D-line coach Dennis Dottin-Carter was brought in as a senior defensive analyst.


Wright gone

Outsider receiver Dylan Wright has left the program, head coach P.J. Fleck said Tuesday. Transferring in from Texas A&M, Wright displayed athletic gifts at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds but wasn’t consistent in his two years at Minnesota.

“He is no longer on the roster,” Fleck said. “Just like my normal standard policy, whether they are not on the roster or in the portal, we just don’t talk about players that aren’t here anymore.

“If they are not here anymore, wish them 100% success and wish them the best,” Fleck said. “Always support them and will do anything for them.”

Wright had 35 receptions for 645 yards and three touchdowns in 21 games.

The Gophers brought in Elijah Spencer from Charlotte via the NCAA transfer portal. He, emerging star Daniel Jackson and LeMeke Brockington, who had the big play in the win over Wisconsin in November, are atop the depth chart on the outside.

Chris Autman-Bell is recovering from an ACL injury in September; he and No. 1 tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford will be limited during spring practices, Fleck said.

NIL shift

The Gophers are changing how the athletics department approaches and handles name, image and likeness (NIL) opportunities for players.

Compliance director Jeremiah Carter will transition into a full-time position handing NIL within the athletic department, AD Mark Coyle said Monday. Carter will work closely with Dinkytown Athletes, the collective that organizes and runs NIL opportunities for Gopher athletes.


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The Gophers are also in the process of hiring a fundraiser to assist Dinkytown Athletes, Coyle said. The university will hire a new compliance director.

“We encourage our donors to look at NIL to see the impact that it has,” Coyle said at the news conference introducing new women’s basketball coach Dawn Plitzuweit. “We have very talented student-athletes here. People reach out to them all the time. We want to make sure we maximize those NIL opportunities.”


Gophers fans will be able to watch football practice next Tuesday and April 4. Both practices open at 5:15 p.m., with the location yet to be announced. … Fleck would not specify whether Matt Simon or Greg Harbaugh, the new co-offensive coordinators, will call plays. … Quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis will not be limited in spring practices after injuring his ankle in the Pinstripe Bowl in late December. … Fleck met new women’s basketball coach Dawn Plitzuweit on Monday. “You talk about energy,” Fleck said. “I know our women’s basketball program is in good hands. Really excited to watch her coach.”


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