MINNEAPOLIS — Opening against fourth-ranked Ohio State was obviously a tough way for the Minnesota Gophers to open their 2021 season.
Well, things just got tougher. Head Coach P.J. Fleck confirmed Monday that Gopher running back Mohamed Ibrahim is out for the season after suffering an injury against the Buckeyes. Fleck says Ibrahim will undergo surgery on his lower leg Tuesday, and insisted the injury is not career ending.
Ibrahim, the team's leading ground gainer and a third team All-American last season, left Thursday night's game against Ohio State late in the third quarter of a 45-31 loss after rushing for 173 yards in 30 carries.
"You feel really bad for the young man," Fleck told reporters. "There is no replacing Mohamed Ibrahim, you can't just say 'we'll just put the next guy in,' you can't do that, he's such a special player."
Fleck added that the loss is deepened by the intangibles Ibrahim brings, things that can't be measured in rushing yardage. "He's an unbelievable person, the hardest worker on this team and the heartbeat of the team."
It's expected that redshirt sophomores Trey Potts, Cam Wiley and Bryce Williams will carry the load as "running back by committee," but Ibrahim going down is a tremendous loss. Fleck has referred to him as the best running back in the country, and Ibrahim's name has been mentioned in early Heisman Trophy discussions.