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Gophers’ run game struggles with star tailback Mo Ibrahim out injured in loss to Purdue

Ibrahim suited up for pregame warmups but was unable to play in the game

NCAA Football: New Mexico State at Minnesota
Minnesota Golden Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim (24) breaks a tackle from New Mexico State Aggies linebacker Chris Ojoh (3) during the first quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium on Sept. 1, 2022.
Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — The Gophers had a big, surprise absence during their Homecoming game against Purdue on Saturday.

Star running back Mo Ibrahim was dressed in uniform and participated in some of pregame warmups but did not play in the 20-10 loss to the Boilermakers at Huntington Bank Stadium.

Ibrahim was out with a lower-leg injury, head coach P.J. Fleck told ESPN2 at halftime. Fleck then told KFXN-FM postgame that the U found out Ibrahim wasn’t going to be able to play just before kickoff.

“Mo was close. If we had a few more days he would have been able to go,” Fleck said in his postgame news conference. “Kind of felt he was going to go. … He practiced (Friday), practiced Thursday, practiced Wednesday and was at practice Tuesday. But again, we are going to keep our players safe.”

Without their best tailback and with the offensive line getting beat up front, Minnesota struggled to run the ball in their first defeat of 2022. The Gophers had 47 total rushing yards and 56 sack-adjusted rushing yards Saturday.

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Backups Bryce Williams had 11 carries for 35 yards and Trey Potts had nine rushes for 10 yards, but the Boilermakers defense routinely beat the Gophers’ front.

“(Ibrahim) is one of the best tailbacks in the country, so if I say missing him doesn’t hurt, I would be lying to you,” Fleck said. “He’s obviously a really good player, but we’ve got to be way better. We got two other backs that are really talented, in Trey and Bryce, and we didn’t block very well up front.”

Ibrahim appeared to injure his left ankle during last week’s 34-7 victory at Michigan State last week, but he returned to the game with it taped up. Ibrahim had 89 carries for 567 yards and eight touchdowns in four games this season.

“He’s a huge leader of our team and a huge part of what we do,” quarterback Tanner Morgan said. “We trust whoever is in there. It’s always the next-man-up mentality. We trust those guys. They’ve both had a lot of reps and have done fantastic things.”

The Gophers enter their bye week, which will give Ibrahim an additional week to recover before a road trip to Illinois on Oct. 15.

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Related Topics: MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
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