It’s no secret that Minnesota’s defense struggled during the 2020 season. If the Golden Gophers want to challenge for a spot near the top of the B1G West again this year, that side of the ball must get much better.

Defensive lineman Boye Mafe knows that the play has to get better, too.

Speaking on Big Ten Network recently, Mafe talked about Minnesota’s mantra entering the 2021 season. The Gophers have to be the aggressor this year in order to make good things happen on the field.

“We have a theme going around, we’re having to knock. And our knock is that we’re all in there knocking together,” Mafe said. “We are the one who knocks. We’re the one who’s going to come out and play and going out there to play with joy with each other.

“We’re not a defense worried about stats or individual accolades. We’re worried about playing together as a unit, because if we play together as a unit, all the individual accolades will come eventually.”

Minnesota’s defense allowed over 30 points per game last season, ranked 12th in the B1G in run defense and 10th in total defense. There’s a lot of room for improvement.

Fortunately for the Gophers, they return several key contributors from last year’s squad. That experience should help as Minnesota looks to be a challenger in the B1G West this season.