Minnesota LB Braelen Oliver is excited about this year’s defense. The fifth-year linebacker called it the fastest unit he’s been a part of with the Gophers.

Oliver, from Douglasville, Georgia, joined the program in 2018. That fall, he took a redshirt, playing in just 2 games. In 2019, he played in all 13 games, recording 22 tackles (14 solo), 3.5 tackles for loss and three sacks to earn Outstanding Defensive Freshman recognition. Oliver missed the 2020 season with injury. He returned in 2021, starting 7 of 13 games, recording 24 tackles, a pass breakup and a forced one fumble.

The 2021 squad went 9-4, winning the Guaranteed Rate Bowl 18-6 over West Virginia. We’ll see if the fastest defense in years can get PJ Fleck’s squad to double-digit wins.

The Gophers open the 2022 campaign against New Mexico State on Sept. 1.