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Minnesota Football 2021 Preview: Defensive Tackle Upgrade / Downgrade

The interior of the defensive line struggled, will it be better in 2021?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 14 Georgia Southern at Minnesota Photo by David Berding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With a couple of high-profile transfers and much more depth in the middle of the defensive line, are the Gophers going to be an upgrade here?

How did I do last year?


I predicted a downgrade after losing so many starters from 2019.

“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.”

And it was. The loss of Sam Renner in the middle was never really replaced. DeAngelo Carter had a really nice redshirt freshman season. But this group was not particularly stout.


Starter: Micah Dew-Treadway, DeAngelo Carter
Depth: Keonte Schad, Rashad Cheney Jr, Noah Hickox, Logan Richter

The Gophers finished 12th in the Big Ten in rushing defense. That isn’t all because of the play from the interior of the line, but it was certainly part of the story. Over the last few years, the Gopher defense is usually led by it’s linebackers and safeties in tackles. In part, because the tackles are required to eat up blockers and allow the linebackers to make the tackles.

Last season the linebacker tackles were mostly missing and the defensive tackle stats were rather weak as well.

Carter had the best season of this group with 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 7 games. Dew-Treadway and Schad were next but they combined for 18 total tackles.

All in all, this group struggled.


Starter: Micah Dew-Treadway, DeAngelo Carter
Depth: Nyles Pinckney, Val Martin, Rashad Cheney Jr, Gage Keys, Logan Richter

Dew-Treadway is back for what is literally his 7th season in a collegiate program. The Notre Dame transfer has started 19 games for the Gophers and has been solid. Carter, as mentioned, has a pretty good year in what was his first as a part of the rotation.

Then, enter two transfers. Pinckney is coming to the Gophers from Clemson and Martin is coming from NC State. Both are expected to either push for a starting role or be in the regular rotation, getting a lot of snaps.

After those starting 4, the young guys have a chance to earn some reps and get better.


Considering it wasn’t that great of a unit in 2019, the 2020 crew certainly seems poised for an upgrade. More than anything, the depth and experience provided by the transfers is going to make a significant difference, especially when injuries occur.

I am also rather excited about the kind of season Carter may have.

This may be the strongest unit on the defensive side of the ball.


Upgrade or Downgrade for the D Tackles?

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    UPGRADE - the transfers are going to make a huge difference
    (249 votes)
  • 10%
    NEUTRAL - don’t raise my expectations please
    (29 votes)
  • 1%
    DOWNGRADE - I see no reason for optimism here
    (3 votes)
281 votes total Vote Now