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Minnesota Golden Gophers Season Preview: Defense

Ra'Shede Hageman Minnesota Gophers

Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Golden Gophers finished a disappointing 6-7 for the 2012 season in the third year under head coach Jerry Kill.

The struggles have continued in every way for the Gophers during Kill’s tenure and he has some pressure to get wins this season.

The offense wasn’t very good for the Gophers last season, and the defense wasn’t that much better.

Statistically speaking, the Gophers were in the bottom half of the conference for defense. They finished ninth in scoring defense, giving up 27.5 points per game on the season. For total defense, the Gophers were seventh in the conference, giving up 375.4 yards per game on defense.

For the Gophers to make any legitimate run in the conference, their defense needs to get into the top half of the conference in those statistics to help out with the slow play of the offense.

While the Gophers lost some key contributors from last season, they do return some good players as well. On the defensive line, defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman returns. I ranked Hageman the third best defensive lineman returning for this season, and he should be a force for the Gophers this season.

Aaron Hill is the best returning linebacker for the Gophers after finishing third on the team in total tackles a season ago. He will lead the linebackers as a senior in 2013.

Derrick Wells was a major contributor to the defense last year, finishing with great numbers out of the defensive backfield and returns as one of the leading players in the secondary as well for the Gophers in 2013. He will be also helped out by the consistent play of Brock Vereen, who was also highly productive last season.

 Erik Sargent is a college football writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Erik_Sargent, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.