The Gophers saw the impact a dominant defensive line can have last Saturday, as TCU controlled the line of scrimmage and harassed Mitch Leidner, notching three interceptions, two sacks and four quarterback hurries.

Now, it’s Minnesota turn to wreak some havoc.

The Gophers didn’t register a sack against TCU, with quarterback Trevone Boykin using a three-step drop to get rid of the ball quickly. But there should be more chances Saturday against San Jose State quarterback Blake Jurich, who uses a more traditional five-step drop.

Minnesota had three sacks in the season opener against Eastern Illinois and two sacks the next week against Middle Tennessee State. But a Gophers team that prides itself on defense ranks second-to-last in the Big Ten with 1.67 sacks per game.

Junior defensive end Theiren Cockran, who ranked third in the Big Ten last year with 7 ½ sacks, still is looking for his first one this year.

“If you’ve watched those first three games, it’s mostly been a lot of three-step [drops], a lot of screen [passes],” Cockran said. “They’re getting the ball out pretty fast. Three steps, it’s going to be hard to get back there. But we’ve gotten good pressure on them.

“We’ll improve on that. I’m not really worried about that sack number right now.”

Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys always says sack totals are less important than how much pressure a team puts on the opposing quarterback.

“The longer that guy can hold the ball, you’re in trouble,” Claeys said. “Sacks get people paid a lot of money, and Buddy Ryan always said, ‘Pressure in the quarterback’s face is worth a lot more than sacks are when it’s all said and done.’ ”

Last year, when the Gophers climbed to 25th in the nation in scoring defense (22.2 points allowed per game), they still ranked third-to-last in the Big Ten with 18 sacks.

Ra’Shede Hageman had only two sacks, facing constant double teams, but he finished with a team-high 13 tackles for loss. Now he’s with the Atlanta Falcons, and the Gophers knew replacing a second-round NFL draft pick wouldn’t be easy.

Scott Ekpe, who replaced Hageman as the starting defensive tackle, suffered a season-ending knee injury in the season opener. Two other defensive linemen — Alex Keith and Yoshoub Timms — were injured in that game and have yet to return.

With their depth thinned, the Gophers have three true freshmen — Steven Richardson, Andrew Stelter and Gaelin Elmore — in their rotation on the defensive line.

But against TCU, the Gophers defensive line had its moments. Cockran, Cameron Botticelli and Robert Ndondo-Lay all had plays when they were right in Boykin’s face, and defensive end Michael Amaefula drilled the TCU quarterback after he released a second-quarter pass.

The Gophers didn’t have a sack last year when they defeated San Jose State 43-24 at TCF Bank Stadium. David Fales passed for 439 yards for the Spartans, and Chandler Jones had seven receptions for 197 yards and three touchdowns. Both have since graduated.

San Jose State is more of a running team now, though Jurich completed 22 of 25 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-10, season-opening victory over North Dakota.

The Spartans have one of the least experienced offensive lines in the nation, with only 23 combined starts entering the season. But that unit still kept Jurich from getting sacked against North Dakota.

It was much different the next week in a 59-13 loss to Auburn, as the Tigers had four quarterback sacks.

“I can’t really quantify how many opportunities we’ll have against them [compared to] TCU,” Botticelli said. “But I’m excited to get back there this week and put some pressure on them.”