Gophers defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys has said repeatedly that he'll be disappointed if this year's team doesn't take another step defensively this year. Claeys points to the depth and experience as reasons this defense should be better.
Still, facing TCU in the season opener will be an immense challenge. The Horned Frogs ranked second in the nation in scoring offense last year, averaging 46.5 points per game. And almost everybody's back from that group, including Heisman candidate Trevone Boykin.
"Here’s what you worry about," Claeys said Wednesday night. "You play a team like TCU, if you have a bad game against them, they will put 77 or 80 points on the board against you -- bottom line. If you don’t come ready to play full-speed, and play the way you’re supposed to, they will bury you and score 70 points.
"A regular team, you play them and have a bad day, you give up 35 or 42. But [TCU will] embarrass you if you have a bad day. So that’s the biggest concern as a coach. You want to coach well, and you want the kids to play well."
TCU defeated the Gophers 30-7 last year, but Minnesota had five turnovers, and the Horned Frogs started every one of their touchdown drives within the Gophers' 40-yard line.
"I feel more comfortable this year just because we’re older, we’ve been in that situation," Claeys said. "So that’s all I’ll tell them is, "'You’ve got to be sharp and ready to go. If you’re not, it’s going to be a heck of a long night. But if we are, if we’re sharp and on our game, I expect us to have a chance to win in the fourth quarter."