For the second consecutive 12 months, the Gophers will probably be lacking one among their greatest offensive gamers for the bulk of the season.
Wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell, a sixth-year senior who has almost 2,000 profession receiving yards, suffered a decrease leg harm Saturday towards Colorado that can require surgical procedure and finish his season, Gophers coach PJ Fleck mentioned Monday.
Fleck mentioned the Gophers will apply to the NCAA for a waiver for Autman-Bell to play a seventh 12 months if the receiver chooses to play in 2023.
Last 12 months, the Gophers lost Mohamed Ibrahim, the 2020 Big Ten Running Back of the Year, to a season-ending Achilles’ tendon harm in the opener towards Ohio State. The Gophers went on to complete 9-4 and tied for second place in the Big Ten West.
“Delayed, not denied,” Autman-Bell tweeted. “Been via hell [and] again already, I’m prepared for all the things that comes with this.”
Autman-Bell is scheduled to bear surgical procedure Wednesday. Fleck didn’t disclose specifics of the harm and deferred to Autman-Bell to offer that data if he chooses.
“It’s unlucky. Your coronary heart breaks for him as a result of he is labored extremely exhausting,” Fleck mentioned. “But we’ve lots of people on this soccer group — and Chris would inform you the very same factor — right here in Year Six that may make a ton of performs for us.”
‘You nonetheless cannot see it’
Autman-Bell is a part of the “Encore Four” group of sixth-year seniors that additionally consists of Ibrahim, quarterback Tanner Morgan and middle John Michael Schmitz, a quartet that’s aiming to safe the Gophers’ first West title.
A Kankakee, Ill., native, Autman-Bell was injured late in the second quarter of the 49-7 victory over Colorado. While leaping in an try and catch a cross, he landed awkwardly and instantly grabbed his proper knee after hitting the turf. He lay on the area for a couple of minutes, tended to by the coaching employees and with Fleck by his facet. He was helped off the area and put somewhat weight on his proper leg.
On Monday, the Gophers’ fears had been realized.
“When you watch the play again and again, you continue to cannot see it,” Fleck mentioned of the non-contact harm. “There is just not a twist, there may be not a flip, it simply goes, and that is soccer. There is nothing you are able to do to keep away from it.”
Fleck mentioned Autman-Bell “responded the method you’d see any individual reply with actually exhausting information, nevertheless it did not take him lengthy to wipe these tears method. His thoughts was already on what he’s going to do and achieve and are available again from.”
Time to step up
Autman-Bell’s manufacturing will not be straightforward to exchange. He leads the Gophers with 11 receptions for 214 yards and a landing this season and has 125 catches for 1,970 yards and 13 TDs in his profession. The offense missed his presence early in the 2021 season when he was restricted by an ankle harm suffered throughout coaching camp.
“We love Crab to loss of life, and he is an enormous a part of this group,” Morgan mentioned Saturday, utilizing Autman-Bell’s nickname. “Whatever occurs or no matter it’s, he is at all times gonna be an enormous a part of this group. We had guys are available and be capable of step up and make performs, which is what it is all about.”
Morgan has unfold the ball round this season. Tight finish Brevyn Spann-Ford is the Gophers’ second-leading receiver with eight catches for 127 yards and a landing, and broad receiver Mike Brown-Stephens has six grabs for 107 yards.
Wideouts Dylan Wright (4 catches, 58 yards) and Clay Geary (4 catches, 73 yards) every had spectacular TD grabs towards Colorado, and Daniel Jackson, the group’s second-leading receiver in 2021, caught two passes for 26 yards in his 2022 debut after lacking the first two video games as a result of harm.
Those gamers, plus Ibrahim, the nation’s second-leading rusher at 154.7 yards per sport, will probably be counted on to maintain the Gophers offense transferring.