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Gophers receiver Chris Autman-Bell leaves Colorado game with injury

Adjusting to an off-target pass, he landed awkwardly on his right leg and was helped off the field

NCAA Football: Colorado at Minnesota
Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell catches a 39-yard touchdown pass against the Colorado Buffaloes on Sept. 17, 2022, at Huntington Bank Stadium.
Matt Blewett / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — The injury to the Gophers football team’s top receiver, Chris Autman-Bell, both looked and sounded serious.

Trying to adjust to a Tanner Morgan pass, Autman-Bell landed awkwardly after not receiving contact and grabbed around his knee after a play late in the first half of Saturday’s 49-7 win against Colorado at Huntington Bank Stadium.

With a pained look, Autman-Bell needed help off the field and into the medical tent, where he was assessed for seven minutes and then needed further help into the locker room. He did not return to the sideline for the second half.

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Freshman guard Mara Braun scored nine first-half points and finished with 18 points, six rebounds and four steals. Sophomore guard Katie Borowicz made 6 of 9 3-point attempts to finish with 16 points.

Head coach P.J. Fleck said Saturday night that Autman-Bell was at a hospital getting images taken on his leg and he didn’t have a forma diagnosis on the sixth-year senior. The manner in which Fleck spoke about the injury did not make it seem run of the mill.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with him, sending positive thoughts,” Fleck said. “It’s unfortunate. Reached back for a ball, takes kind of a funky step and hurts himself, so I know we got some amazing doctors and amazing medical care. I will let you know as soon as I know what’s going on.”

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Autman-Bell led the Gophers with three receptions on four targets for 58 yards and one touchdown on Saturday. Through the first three games, the sixth-year senior had team highs of 11 receptions and 214 yards and is tied with others at one TD.

“He’s one of the most (integral) parts to what we do and how we do it, on and off the field,” Fleck said. “One of the best people, but no matter what, we are trained to Row The Boat.”

Minnesota had just welcomed back receiver Daniel Jackson on Saturday. After missing the first two games with an ankle injury, Jackson had one reception for eight yards in the first half.

After Autman-Bell went down, Morgan connected with Dylan Wright on a 16-yard touchdown pass before the half and five other receivers.

Outside of Autman-Bell, the Gophers have primarily relied on slot receiver Michael Brown-Stephens and tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford in the passing game. Wright has also had a role, along with smaller roles for Lemeke Brockington and Clay Geary. Geary, a Lakeville native, caught his first touchdown Saturday.

“I think we are deeper than we’ve ever been when you look at athletes and playmakers,” Fleck said. “We might not have that one or two. Maybe in past years, when you look collectively on how we are running our offense, we have a lot of people involved.”

Spann-Ford was second on the team Saturday with three receptions of 34 yards, but he tipped a pass that led to a Buffaloes interception. It was the U’s first and only INT through 68 passing attempts.

Briefly

Guard Axel Ruschmeyer exited Saturday’s game. He also left the season opener on Sept. 1 with an injury. All Fleck said was Ruschmeyer is “OK.” … Linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin had a team high four tackles. The Gophers honored women’s basketball coach Lindsay Whalen during the first quarter Saturday; the Hutchinson native was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame last weekend.

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Related Topics: MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
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