Injuries have plagued Minnesota at running back this season, but headed into Saturday’s game against Ohio State, the Gophers expect to field a capable pair.
That one of them, Mohamed Ibrahim, is a redshirt freshman and the other, Bryce Williams, is a freshman actually is fitting — Minnesota, after all, is one of the younger Power Five teams in the country with 52 percent of the roster either redshirt freshmen or true freshmen.
That makes Ibrahim, then, one of the older players in the group. And now that he is healthy after missing the second and third games of the season because of injury, the 5-foot-10, 205-pounder is expected to shoulder at least half the load.
Gophers coach P.J. Fleck thinks Ibrahim is up to it.
“Mohamed is a guy who is really, really tough,” Fleck said. “He’s got a great center of gravity. He’s incredibly strong, one of the strongest players on our team, pound for pound.
“He’s not that big of a guy, but he’s incredibly strong. He’s got to continue work on breaking tackles and things like that, but when he gets in a pile he can push that pile pretty good.”
Ibrahim was one of the few bright spots offensively for the Gophers their past two games, lopsided losses to Maryland and Iowa. He rushed for 95 yards on 26 carries in a 42-13 defeat at Maryland, and 62 on 13 carries last week in a 48-31 home loss to Iowa. He brings no-nonsense approach to work.
“He’s a one-cut type back, has great vision, and can see (the hole) and hit it,” Fleck said. “I’m really proud of how hard he’s worked so far.”
Ibrahim fits right in with what Minnesota likes to do with its offense, which features prolific use of run/pass option plays. But in terms of Ibrahim’s running style, OSU linebacker Tuf Borland said the Buckeyes know what’s coming at them.
“They have running backs by committee,” Borland said. “But they run hard. They’re physical backs.
“And that goes for their whole offense. They’re going to line up, they’re going to run at you, and they’re going to see how tough you are.”