The Gophers will be without the right side of their projected offensive line for the foreseeable future.
Right guard Curtis Dunlap Jr. and right tackle Daniel Faalele both missed Saturday’s 49-24 loss to Michigan. Dunlap was on the sideline for warmups at TCF Bank Stadium, using a scooter with his left foot in a cast. Faalele was not present.
Per a report from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, both are out indefinitely: Dunlap with a torn Achilles’ tendon, and Faalele absent from the team for several months with COVID-19 concerns. Dunlap briefly entered the NCAA transfer portal on Sept. 1 only to pull his name the next day. Faalele endured some injuries last season, which kept him out of a couple games late in the year.
Both Dunlap and Faalele are products of IMG Academy, four-star recruits in coach P.J. Fleck’s 2018 class. Faalele, at 6-9, 400 pounds, is a looming presence on the O-line, with 6-5, 345-pound Dunlap beside him. Those two were expected to play big roles again this season, along with center Conner Olson, left guard Blaise Andries and left tackle Sam Schlueter, plus rotating center John Michael Schmitz.
Those six returning starting-caliber linemen were supposed to be a big boon for this year’s Gophers. But without the right-side duo, everyone besides Schlueter shifted, with Axel Ruschmeyer coming in at left guard, Schmitz at center, Olson at right guard and Andries at right tackle.
That unit allowed five sacks on quarterback Tanner Morgan and helped the team to only 129 rushing yards against Michigan. But that appears to be the group that will see the Gophers through for the time being.
Sapp in transfer portal
Gophers cornerback Benny Sapp III has entered the NCAA transfer portal.
The Eden Prairie grad announced his decision Thursday on Twitter. He landed several scholarship offers after playing as a freshman at football powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
He transferred to Eden Prairie, but finished his high school career with three knee surgeries.
Sapp played in all 13 games as a freshman for the Gophers and appeared in 11 as a sophomore. The son of former Vikings player Benjamin Sapp II mostly contributed to the Gophers’ special teams. He did not play against Michigan.
“Thank you Minnesota for believing in a 16 year old kid,” Sapp tweeted. “My recruitment is officially open.”