Minnesota expected reigning Big Ten running back of the year Mohamed Ibrahim to shoulder much of the offensive load this season.
Instead, a season-ending leg injury suffered in the season opener Sept. 2 stalled Ibrahim’s total contributions at 30 carries, 163 yards and two touchdowns.
The Golden Gophers (0-1) now will turn their attention to picking up the slack and salvaging what the program hoped would be a bounce-back season as Minnesota hosts Miami (Ohio) on Saturday.
“It’s a great challenge to our other backs, a great challenge to everybody else on the team, and everybody else is going to have to be able to play a little bit harder, a little bit better,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said. “But that’s what a team is.”
Redshirt junior Bryce Williams contributed a 2-yard scoring run to the Golden Gophers’ 45-31 loss to Ohio State to begin the season, but make no mistake, he and the rest of the depth chart are lacking in the experience department compared to Ibrahim, a redshirt senior who averaged 153.7 rushing yards per game a season ago.
Other candidates for increased carries include Trey Potts and Cam Wiley, who have 421 career rushing yards combined.
The Redhawks (0-1) are coming off Saturday’s season-opening, 49-14 loss at Cincinnati. They surrendered touchdowns on the Bearcats’ first three possessions and trailed 35-0 at halftime.
A trio of freshmen sparked the Redhawks, as Keyon Mozee carried 15 times for 80 yards and classmates Kenny Tracy and John Saunders Jr. each scored the first touchdowns of their careers in the fourth quarter. Saunders returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown.
The Redhawks passed for 109 yards and rushed for 169 while amassing 13 penalties for 100 yards.
“We’re going to have to be way more efficient in the pass game, and we’re going to have to move the football,” Redhawks coach Chuck Martin said. “We’re going to have to not leave our defense on the field near as much as we did a week ago.”
Minnesota leads the all-time series against Miami (Ohio) 4-0. The Golden Gophers defeated the Redhawks 26-3 on Sept. 15, 2018, in the programs’ most recent meeting.
–Field Level Media