While the Gophers will be without their top two running backs when they resume play against Nebraska on Saturday at Huntington Bank Stadium, they'll welcome a boost from their receiving corps.
Wide receiver Dylan Wright is back with the team after missing the Oct. 2 game at Purdue while in his home state of Texas to mourn the shooting death of Utah cornerback Aaron Lowe, a teammate at West Mesquite High School. Chris Autman-Bell, who's been in and out of the lineup because of an ankle injury suffered during training camp, is "good, fine,'' to play against the Cornhuskers, according to coach P.J. Fleck.
Wright leads the team with 169 receiving yards and two touchdowns on nine catches, while Autman-Bell has seven catches for 128 yards and a TD. Autman-Bell made an impact against Purdue, catching a 32-yard touchdown pass on the Gophers' first series, and his big-play ability is needed for a passing game that's averaged only 114 yards and seven completions over the past two games.
"You have to find creative ways to go win football games,'' Fleck said. "It might not be as popular as people want, but we won the football game two Saturdays ago and that was the whole goal of that week.''
A long, hard look at themselves
As part of bye week, Fleck and his coaching staff did an extensive self-scouting exercise in which units game-planned against each other. The takeaway: Fleck wants more consistency.
"There are a lot of things we found out that you pretty much know, but it reiterates what your suspicions are,'' he said. "When you have a constantly revolving door of playmakers, at least on offense, it's really hard to get that consistency at times, whether that's practice or whether that's in the game. But we're working on that, trying to find the best ways to bring consistency to the offense, as well as the defense and special teams.''
- The Gophers Oct. 23 game against Maryland at Huntington Bank Stadium will have a 2:30 p.m. kickoff and be broadcast on ESPN2, the Big Ten announced.
- Nebraska starting left tackle Teddy Prochazka, a true freshman, will miss the rest of the season because of a knee injury suffered Saturday against Michigan. "Teddy has improved by leaps and bounds,'' Huskers coach Scott Frost said in his weekly news conference. "It is a tough setback.''
- Huskers right tackle Bryce Benhart, a redshirt freshman from Lakeville, started the season's first five games, was moved to second string two weeks ago and is expected to be back in the starting lineup Saturday. "He has a chance to show us this week,'' Frost said. "He's from Minnesota, and I don't think he played his best game against them last year. We have faith in him.''