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  As the Gophers prepare to start spring football next week, coach P.J. Fleck said the coaches know there will be some rebuilding, even as they carry the momentum from one of the best seasons in program history - an 11-2 finish, capped by a 31-24 victory over Auburn in the Outback Bowl. "We might even get a little younger on defense. As we have gotten older on offense, now we're coming back to be able to build that defense," Fleck said. "We may be a little younger, a little more inexperienced than we were last year. But as a whole, we have to find a way to be better."

The club lost 15 players to graduation last year, nine on defense. "That's where we're going to need a lot of guys to fill in depth," Fleck said. "The Carter Coughlins are not here anymore, the Kamal Martins and Blake Cashmans and Antoine Winfields are gone, Thomas Barber is gone," Fleck said. "Who are going to be the guys that fill in for those roles? A guy like [junior linebacker] Mariano Sori-Marin, who played last year, is going to have a huge role in what we're going to do. [Redshirt sophomore linebacker] Braelen Oliver, who played a lot last year, is going to have a huge role for us as we continue to go this year. He has matured and stepped up. - Minneapolis Star Tribune

rSr/2023 ILB Mariano Sori-MarinMinnesota
News Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune

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