Gophers fire defensive coordinator Robb Smith

The defensive line coach has been promoted to interim defensive coordinator.
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PJ Fleck

Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck fired defensive coordinator Robb Smith on Sunday, one day after Minnesota allowed 55 points and nearly 650 yards in a blowout loss to Illinois. 

"These decisions are always difficult, especially when they involve a close friend and colleague," said Fleck in a statement. "I want to thank Robb, Amy and their family for all the time and energy they spent helping our program grow. Robb is an elite man and will always be a dear friend of mine." 

Defensive line coach Joe Rossi will take over as the interim defensive coordinator. He has experience calling plays from his past defensive coordinator jobs at Rutgers, Maine and Thiel College.

It didn't help that Smith was calling plays for a defense that lost its best player five weeks ago when safety Antoine Winfield Jr. was lost for the season with an injury, but Minnesota's defense has allowed 43.2 points and 507.7 yards per game in Big Ten play. 

This was Smith's second season with the Gophers, having been brought to Minnesota by Fleck after spending a three years as the defensive coordinator at Arkansas under former Wisconsin head coach Brett Bielema.

Minnesota hosts Purdue this week before wrapping up the regular season with games against Northwestern and Wisconsin the following two weeks. 

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