Gophers' Hageman sees room for improvement in his play

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 3, 2013 - 6:32 AM

Ra'Shede Hageman (99)

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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Ra’Shede Hageman might be a fifth-year senior and an NFL prospect, but he’s quick to say he’s still learning how to play defensive tackle.

This is Hageman’s third year playing the position, and five games into the season, he sees plenty of room to grow.

“I could really step up my sacks or just putting more pressure on the quarterback,” Hageman said. “I think I’ve got one sack right now, but I think there’s always some things I can work on. I’m definitely kind of soaking this up like a sponge.”

Hageman’s one sack came Sept. 14, against Western Illinois. After five games last year he had three sacks, and he finished the year with six.

But there are other ways to impact a football game. Hageman has 20 tackles, including 5½ tackles for a loss, three blocked passes and two blocked kicks. After five games last year, he had 16 tackles, 3½ for a loss, one blocked pass and no blocked kicks.

Michigan All-America offensive tackle Taylor Lewan praised Hageman this week in an interview with BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart.

“The Minnesota defense is pretty good,” Lewan said. “They are No. 1 in the Big Ten when it comes to TFLs [tackles for loss]. And we aren’t so great when it comes to giving up tackles for loss.

“Ra’Shede Hageman is a great player, a strong and powerful guy. He will line up at end sometimes. He can bull rush. It will be fun to play against him.”

Manuel in for Campbell

De’Vondre Campbell started the past two games at outside linebacker, but James Manuel replaced him against Iowa after Campbell had some early lapses. He was slow reacting, for example, when Jake Rudock scrambled for a second-quarter touchdown.

Campbell is a junior college transfer and still a sophomore, so the Gophers are using it as a teaching moment.

“You’ve got to remember, De’Vondre’s played in only five games at the U, and he hadn’t played Iowa,” Kill said.

Bak leads the line

The Gophers rushed 27 times for 30 yards against Iowa, and after reviewing film, Kill said right guard Caleb Bak was the one lineman who performed well.

“He had a very good game, but I think everybody else up front — we just don’t sustain blocks,” Kill said. “We let people get off their blocks too easy, and we’ve got to sustain blocks. Part of it might be because Iowa’s very strong up front, but we just didn’t finish up front very well.”

Edwards could redshirt

Freshman running back Berkley Edwards has returned from his sprained ankle injury, but it’s increasingly likely he will redshirt. Kill mentioned the depth the Gophers have at running back, especially with Donnell Kirkwood back from his ankle injury.

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