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2020 Minnesota Gopher Football Preview: Upgrade or downgrade at defensive line?

How much did we lose along the defensive line?

NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Minnesota vs Auburn Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Flipping from the offensive line to the defensive line, how much better or worse will the Gophers be along the defensive line this year?


Starter: Carter Coughlin, Micah Dew-Treadway, Sam Renner, Winston DeLattiboudere
Depth: Boye Mafe, Esezi Otomewo, Keonte Schad, Jamaal Teague, Noah Hickcox

As you can see, this team is losing 34 of their 2019 defensive line starters. Carter Coughlin is on an active NFL roster after being a 2nd team All-Big Ten performer, Sam Renner led the team in sacks and DeLattiboudere started 36 games over his Gopher career. None of those guys are going to be easy replace.

On the plus side, a number or talented individuals were able to get some actual playing time as part of the rotations along the line. Mafe and Otomewo saw action in all 13 games as sophomores at defensive end, and combined for 5.5 sacks.

At tackle Renner had a breakout senior season, consistently making plays in the backfield and emerging as


Starter: Boye Mafe, Micah Dew-Treadway, Keonte Schad, Esezi Otomewo
Depth: Thomas Rush (DE), Jamaal Teague (DT), De’Angelo Carter (DT), D’Vion Harris (DE), MJ Anderson

Even with losing a number of starters, I like this starting line. Both starting ends were part of the rotation in 2019 while also saw time in 2018. Combined they have played in 49 games. They are experienced enough and have shown enough that they are going to be good ends for this team. Tackle should be just fine as well. Schad steps into Renner’s spot and should be just fine. Anderson, Harris and Rashad Cheney Jr. are redshirt freshmen who may need to play significant minutes. And at end you may even see some true freshmen (Jah Joyner or Gage Keys) getting some time.

What concerns me more is the inexperience and depth after the starting line. Rush has potential to be a disruptive rush-end and Teague should be just fine in the DT rotation. But after those two, you have a lot of youth along the line depth.

I am really expecting to see Mafe and Otomewo have breakout seasons, both have been able to come along slowly in their development and should be ready to make an impact now they will see more reps.

Upgrade / Downgrade

So this group as an upgrade or downgrade? I think the loss of 3 starters and questions on depth make this overall unit a downgrade.

As stated, I like the starting line. But concerns of depth and inexperience are real. This unit could be a surprise and actually be an upgrade, or even neutral. But until proven, I will stick with a bit of a downgrade in 2020.


Upgrade or Downgrade at Defensive Line?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    UPGRADE: Just you wait!
    (48 votes)
  • 39%
    NEUTRAL: Lose a little, gain a little.
    (89 votes)
  • 39%
    DOWNGRADE: Lost a little too much.
    (90 votes)
227 votes total Vote Now