There’s no denying the impact that Chris Autman-Bell has on Minnesota’s offense, and there’s no denying his absence leaves a big void for the program. The Gophers cannot just simply replace his production, but there are some players who can help step up and fill the void.

In Week 4, quarterback Tanner Morgan and the offense had their first test with a road trip to East Lansing. And even if Michigan State has its horrific issues on defense, Morgan and the Gophers passed that test with flying colors.

In that matchup, Morgan was electric and efficient, completing 23-of-26 passes for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns without an interception. He also utilized his legs on some key 3rd-down plays, picking up 27 yards on 3 scrambles for the Gophers.

To make Morgan’s day even more impressive, he completed passes to 10 different Gophers. Without Autman-Bell’s presence, 6 Minnesota players recorded at least 2 catches in the game led by Michael Brown-Stephens’ 6 receptions.

It’s the kind of outing that shows how good this Minnesota offense can be, and sheds some light on how this Gophers squad might make up for the injury to Autman-Bell.

RB Mohamed Ibrahim

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, Minnesota’s bread and butter will always be the ground game under PJ Fleck. Ibrahim was fantastic once again against Michigan State, putting up 103 yards and 4.7 yards per carry as the Gophers rushed for 240 yards as a team.

However, Minnesota added a nice little wrinkle in Week 4 by throwing the ball to Ibrahim. After entering the game with 2 catches on the season (17 total receptions for his career), Ibrahim recorded 2 receptions for 20 yards against the Spartans.

Is Ibrahim suddenly going to become a deep threat in the passing game? Highly unlikely, but he showed enough competency for Minnesota to utilize his skillset in the air attack out of the backfield.

TE Brevyn Spann-Ford

At 6-foot-7 and 270 lbs., Spann-Ford has already been a matchup nightmare for the opposition. He also put together a solid 2021 season with 23 catches for 296 yards and a touchdown. But if Week 4 is any indication, expect his usage to skyrocket in Autman-Bell’s absence.

Spann-Ford was targeted early against the Spartans and finished with 3 catches for 40 yards in the game. That brings his season production up to 11 catches – tied for 2nd on the team – for 167 yards and a touchdown. Most notably, Spann-Ford’s efficiency is off the charts with a career-best 15.2 yards per catch to open the season.

WR Michael Brown-Stephens

Who takes over the lead receiver role for the Gophers? In Week 4, that distinction belonged to Brown-Stephens.

Facing the Spartans, Brown-Stephens hauled in 6 catches for 73 yards, both marks team-high for Minnesota in the win. That bumps Brown-Stephens to the season lead for the Gophers with 12 catches.

What is remarkable is that Brown-Stephens is yet to record a touchdown catch this season, but he’s averaging 15 yards per catch and is a piece to build on moving forward.

WRs Dylan Wright, Daniel Jackson

Wright and Jackson were similarly productive in the game against Michigan State, and both have solid roles available with the Gophers. Both players had 3 catches against the Spartans with Wright finishing with 54 yards and Jackson finishing with 42.

Last season, Wright was a huge threat for the Gophers while averaging more than 20 yards per catch. While Jackson has had a much quieter starter to his career, he had 2 touchdowns – a career-high – against Michigan State while setting a season-high in receptions.

Both players figure to get more reps without Autman-Bell in the lineup, and both receivers showed they were ready to step up with the performance against Michigan State.