Gophers LB Cody Lindenberg out, TE Brevyn Spann-Ford to play at North Carolina

Head Coach P. J. Fleck of the Minnesota Golden Gophers celebrates a touchdown during the first half of the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on November 26, 2022 in Madison, Wisconsin.  ((Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images))

The University of Minnesota football team continues non-conference play at No. 20-ranked North Carolina on Saturday, but it will not mark the 2023 debut for Cody Lindenberg.

The linebacker and the defense’s leading returning tackler was upgraded to questionable on the team’s availability report, released two hours before kickoff. He went through a pregame workout, but was not dressed when the Gophers took the field for warm-ups Saturday ahead of facing the Tar Heels. Lindenberg has missed the Gophers’ first two wins after suffering a leg injury late in fall camp. Minnesota was able to beat Nebraska 13-10 and Eastern Michigan 25-6 without him.

P.J. Fleck said earlier this week there's "definitely a chance" that Lindenberg would play, but that will have to wait until at least Sept. 23 at Northwestern.

The Gophers will have a tall task defensively against star quarterback Drake May without Lindenberg, the heart of the defense. 

Wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell is questionable as he works his way back from a knee injury suffered in Week 3 last season. He’s been listed as questionable for every game, played one snap against Nebraska and dressed, but didn’t play against Eastern Michigan.

Running back Bryce Williams is out, and will miss his second straight game. Without him, freshman Darius Taylor ran for 193 yards and a touchdown last week.

Brevyn Spann-Ford is not listed on the availability report and should be ready to play against North Carolina. He suffered an injury after a big hit in the fourth quarter against Eastern Michigan last week, spent significant time in the injury tent, and did not return. But he's expected to play Saturday.

P.J. Fleck is 19-1 in non-conference play in six-plus seasons with the Gophers.