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Much of the attention in Saturday's 49-7 victory over Colorado was on the Gophers offense after a key injury and having overwhelmingly exploited the nation's worst run defense.

On the other side of the ball, though, coach P.J. Fleck's defense showed again why it has been ranked among the best in college football this season.

No superstars have emerged yet defensively. It's more about executing the game plan and everyone doing their job.

"That's what this defense is built on," linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin said. "That's how we're going to have success moving forward. There's not one guy out there having 20 tackles or having two interceptions in a game. It's everybody doing their job and getting off the field when we need to."

The Gophers' numbers were a bit inflated against New Mexico State and Western Illinois in the first two games, but they remained dominant nearly shutting out their first Power Five opponent.

Entering Saturday, the Gophers ranked first in FBS in total defense (142.5 yards) and second in third down defense (3-for-22).

Colorado finished with 227 total yards and a touchdown on the day, but the bulk of that came after facing an insurmountable deficit. The Buffaloes had just 91 yards and were 1-for-9 on third down when Fleck took his starters out leading 49-0 in the fourth quarter.

Sure, the reserves failed to hold on for the second shutout this season after obliterating former Gophers coach Jerry Kill's Aggies 38-0 in the season opener, but this was arguably a more impressive effort.

Gophers defensive coordinator Joe Rossi bragged about having more speed than he's ever coached. How that would translate after losing several starters was a question answered in spectacular fashion through three games.

Sori-Marin, who led the team with six tackles Saturday, said the biggest improvement from last season has been toughness up front. That allows the rest of the defense to utilize its speed to swarm the ball.

That being said, pass rushing was emphasized this week after the defense had only one sack against Western Illinois.

Terrell Smith made Colorado quarterback J.T. Shrout feel pressure early when his hard hit on a corner blitz forced a fumble that was recovered by Jalen Logan-Redding deep in opposing territory in the first quarter. That led to Mohamed Ibrahim's second rushing TD for a 14-0 lead.

Another key defensive series to keep the momentum in the first half came after the Gophers' first punt of the game ahead 21-0 in the second quarter.

The Buffaloes had just 24 total yards in the game before an 18-yard run gave them confidence getting to the Minnesota 30-yard line. Two plays later, Danny Striggow's sack for a 9-yard loss eventually led to a punt.

"This week we tried to hone in on finishing those [pass] rushes," Striggow said. "If the first move doesn't work hit another move. Just always making progress towards the quarterbacks."

The Gophers finished with three sacks Saturday. They gave up only 56 passing yards, but 28 yards came on the final play of the game.

Despite the competition not being top notch in the first three games, Fleck's defense made a big statement going into next week's Big Ten opener at Michigan State.

"We're going to have to get way more pass rushers when we get into the Big Ten," Fleck said. "But we've got some really young talented players. You're starting to see more of those guys."