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Minnesota Football: TDG interviews Carter Coughlin at B1G Media Days

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The Daily Gopher was able to ask a few questions of the junior rush end during Monday’s interview sessions

Colorado State v Minnesota

As part of Monday’s first session of the Big Ten Media Days, The Daily Gopher had the opportunity to speak with and ask a couple questions of each of the three player representatives that accompanied head coach P.J. Fleck to Chicago.

Here are some quotes from junior rush end Carter Coughlin.

On the initial conversation about switching from linebacker to rush end:

“I was excited about it, because Coach [Robb Smith] walked through with me how my assets and my skills would be used at our rush end position. He broke it down, he said, ‘With your speed, your size, your athleticism, you’ll be able to pass rush — which is huge — and then also be able to drop into coverage and have different plays where you fit into gaps and stuff.’ I just think it’s a unique position because it allows me to do so much, and that’s why I really like it, to be honest.”

On if he feels more comfortable now after one season at rush end:

“Definitely feel more comfortable. Now I don’t really have to think about what I’m doing. It’s just instinct at this point. So it allows me to play way faster. Areas of improvement have really been my hands and my hips, in terms of flipping my hips to the quarterback and using my hands on my pass rush moves, because I really didn’t have pass rush moves last year. I just ran at full speed and used athleticism. Now I’ve really honed in on specific skills that will improve my pass rush.”

On how much he has worked with new pass rush specialist coach Marcus West this offseason:

“He is the one that’s been drilling the hands and the hips. He’s unbelievable. He’s broken down the pass rush moves and just pass rushing in general into a science. That starts off with bending, being able to bend and run, that goes into hands and hips, eyes, reaction time, all that different stuff. He is so specific with what he does, and I’ve seen it transform my pass rush.”

On how the Gophers will replace Steven Richardson on the defensive line:

“Steve Richardson — or “Big Stove,” whatever you want to call him — was an absolute stud. It’s tough replacing somebody like that, but it also gives a great opportunity to a bunch of guys on the team that I know will be able to do it. So I’m excited to see who on the defensive line steps up, because I think we have a lot of talent there.”

On what he has seen from now-eligible transfers O.J. Smith and Chris Williamson:

“They’ve both been working unbelievably hard. They’ve both bought into the culture, which is really exciting, because I think that is just as tough as being with a different coach and having a new coach come in. So I’m really excited to see them in action, starting out in fall camp and progressing through the year. I think both have the potential to be big contributors.”

On what it has been like to come up in the same class as Thomas Barber, Kamal Martin, and Antoine Winfield, Jr.:

“It’s like a dream come true. I room with Antoine Winfield, Jr., Kamal Martin, Thomas Barber, and as freshmen we all had significant impacts in how our team did, from a playing perspective. Building on that relationship, that friendship, bringing that into the football team has been huge and it just shows guys how close we are as a football team.”

On how players have bought into the Row the Boat culture from Year 1 to Year 2:

“Year 1, the buy-in was sporadic, and it was a lot different for different people. Year 2, if you don’t buy in, you stick out like a sore thumb and you might as well get out. And that’s not Coach Fleck saying that anymore, that’s us as players and as leaders saying that. So it’s shifted from being Coach Fleck’s culture to being our culture. We take ownership of that.”

On how the team responded to the final two losses of the season, in which the Gophers lost by a combined scored of 70-0:

“When you get beat and you don’t put up points, that sucks. I’m super competitive, and everybody else is, so the feeling of that kind of defeat, it just sucks. It’s really tough to deal with, because if you’re not competitive, you shouldn’t be playing Division I football. I’d say that those games, those losses, were demeaning in a sense. But it’s also huge fuel for the future. This offseason, thinking of those games makes you crank out a couple extra reps in the weight room, you know what I mean? So there is a silver lining to it all.”