March 1, 2007

Will the coverage improve in 2007?

Minnesota fans have become accustomed to seeing the Gophers secondary give plenty of cushion and allow opposing receivers to eat up large chunks of yardage. With former NFL defensive backs coach Everett Withers now in charge of the defense those days should be over. The defensive backfield has some returning talent, but will need to get more production across the board to implement the attacking style of defense that they are hoping to play.

Returning Starters: Dominic Jones, Dominique Barber, Jamal Harris (8 games) Kevin Mannion (2 games), Duran Cooley (3 games), Desi Steib (4 games).

The Contenders

Junior to be Dominic Jones is the heart and soul of the team and will have a place in the backfield. He played well at safety, but seemed to find his home after an injury to Trumaine Banks moved him to corner. He finished tied for second on the team with 82 tackles.

Safety Dominique Barber really came in to his own during his junior year. He led the team with four interceptions and also had a fumble recovery. He is also a solid tackler who can support the run. Should have no problem retaining a starting spot in 07.

Senior to be Jamal Harris has started 23 games over the past three years and will contend again for more starting time. He is a very good tackler, but had a knack for getting beat deep. Part of that could have been the scheme and he could thrive in a more physical system.

Safety Kevin Mannion came into his own with two interceptions in the Iowa game, including one that sealed the win. Mannion is a walk-on who could end up being the next John Pawelski.

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