The Minnesota Gophers rolled to a 49-3 win over the Colorado Buffalos on Saturday. The Gophers dominated every facet of the game and now start their Big Ten season with a record of 3-0. However, they also lost their star receiver to a season-ending injury during the game.
Minnesota Gophers Lose Chris Autman-Bell
Wide Receiver Chris Autman-Bell suffered a non-contact lower leg injury in the first half trying to catch an errant Tanner Morgan pass. Autman-Bell left the game immediately and today Gophers coach P.J. Fleck made the announcement about his wideouts status for the rest of the season.
Autman-Bell was a key ingredient for the rejuvenated Gophers offense. This unit is thriving again under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca. Autman-Bell was the leading receiver for the unbeaten Minnesota Gophers registering 11 catches for 214 yards and one touchdown in this short season. He was selected as an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention after bringing down 36 catches, coupled with 506 receiving yards during the 2021 season.
Big Four Return for Minnesota Gophers
1-0 in the Colorado season. pic.twitter.com/dpkHS9lG2y
— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) September 18, 2022
He was also one of the “big four” sixth-year seniors who returned to the Gopher this season forgoing NFL and other career aspirations. His return along with those of Mo Ibrahim, John Michel Schmitz, and Morgan was one of the reasons there was so much enthusiasm for the team as the 2022 season approached.
With Autman-Bell lost for the season, some of his teammates will have to step in to fill this large void. Redshirt senior tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford will have to up his game to help keep the Gophers’ offense competitive. The same goes for redshirt junior wideout Michael Brown-Stephens.
Others Need to Step Up
We're not done yet!
The deep ball is grabbed by Dylan Wright over the back shoulder! pic.twitter.com/z3eW2TG5zh
— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) September 17, 2022
Much will also be expected of wide receivers Dylan Wright and Daniel Jackson. Wright in particular showed flashes of brilliance last season before being sidelined with personal issues. Also, Ibrahim and fellow running back Bryce Williams will have to shoulder more of the responsibility in the passing game.
Minnesota Gopher Athletics has stated that they intend to seek another year of eligibility for Autman-Bell from the NCAA, dependent on decisions to be made by him and his family. For now, Autman-Bell had this to say about the situation: “Delayed, not denied. Been through hell & back already, I’m ready for everything that comes with this.”
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