Minnesota defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys has four goals for the Gophers defense each week.
1. Hold the opponent to 17 points or less
2. Limit the opponent to 3.2 yards per carry or less
3. Win 65% of third-down opportunities
4. Create 3 or more turnovers
Claeys explained the challenge this season to Twin Cities ESPN 1500, “I think we can play good defense. Now, are kids willing to go through that process every week and prepare themselves the same and look at every opponent the same and say, 'It's not who we play, but how we play each week?' If we live up to those standards, we have a chance. If the kids have the will, and they want to do that part of it.”
“Like I said, there's no challenges during the spring, and so the first time things go bad, we're going to find out who's going to stick together and who's not. I think we have a chance to just keep building, but the past has nothing to do with it. Like I told Coach (Kill), if I did (think the Gophers couldn't play good defense), I would've never come with him.”
“There's been 10 D-coordinators here in the last 20 years. That's not really good job stability on my part, and so those things you got to let it go. Not to say you can't learn from the past and some things that have went on, but that's not going to have anything to do with if we play good on defense or don't. The past 20 years is not going to affect that.”
Claeys may puke if the Gophers only have 9 sacks like they did a year ago.
He explained, “It bothers me. That's just something whether it's the Big Ten or Conference USA, it doesn't matter. The quarterback has to make decisions under pressure and not sit back there and do what he wants to do or let a coach signal in from the sideline of what he wants to throw. Every secondary coverage, there's a weakness to it, and the way you cover it up is by getting to the quarterback.”
“Make the ball come out quicker; the quicker the ball comes out, the more people can chase and run. You can watch game after game whether on Saturday or Sunday, it doesn't matter. Bad things happen when the quarterback can hold onto the football. I've been very blunt with the kids -- that's a situation that has to be corrected, and without blitzing 25 times a game. You know you have to be able to put pressure on the QB and get him get the ball out. I told someone the other day, 'If you look up and halfway through the season we only have nine sacks, we're going to struggle. We're not getting things accomplished we need to get accomplished.”
The Gophers open at USC. The next three games are at home against New Mexico State, Miami (OH), and North Dakota State.