In the first game back from a COVID-19 outbreak, the Gophers will be shorthanded.

Coach P.J. Fleck had said earlier this week the team would be without more than 20 players just from positive COVID-19 tests after the team dealt with an outbreak throughout the past two weeks that peaked at 49 cases, including 23 players. That's not even counting any injuries.

From warm-ups (thanks to columnist Chip Scoggins' eagle eyes) it appears offensive linemen John Michael Schmitz and Axel Ruschmeyer; tight ends Ko Kieft, Jake Paulson and Bryce Witham; linebacker Cody Lindenberg and defensive tackle Micah Dew-Treadway are absent.

Nathan Boe, the first rotated in on the O-line, should start at center, and true freshman Aireonte Ersery will start at right tackle. Sam Schlueter should remain at left tackle with Blaise Andries and left guard and Conner Olson at right guard.

Brevyn Spann-Ford, who was injured in the most recent game against Purdue, appears to be the only tight end with significant playing experience available.

Others have returned from potential COVID-19 absences, including cornerback Benjamin St-Juste, defensive tackle Keonte Schad and defensive end Boye Mafe. Schad should take Dew-Treadway's starting spot.