Iowa’s injuries take a toll on defense, offensive line in overtime loss at Northwestern

EVANSTON, Ill. — Josey Jewell participated in stretching, warmups and pregame drills before Iowa’s loss at Northwestern on Saturday.

Iowa’s all-everything linebacker even had his wrists taped for the coin flip. But Jewell knew he wasn’t playing against the Wildcats because of a shoulder injury.

“I thought Josey might have an opportunity to perform today, but he didn’t pass the test,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We dressed him out and all that, but we knew he wasn’t going to play in the football game.”

Offensive lineman Boone Myers has yet to fully recover from a high-ankle sprain suffered early in training camp. During a timeout, the entire offensive line huddled around the sideline, but a full-dressed Myers sat on the bench.

Two seniors with at least three seasons of starting experience, and both dressed out without a chance of playing in an important Big Ten game. Then, there’s junior safety Brandon Snyder, who re-injured his knee against Illinois on Oct. 7 and wasn’t in uniform.

“It’s a tough situation, and it has been since [Myers] started camp,” Ferentz said. “It’s a challenging thing. It’s the hardest part about coaching. Here’s a guy that’s a senior, a good player, a tremendous young man, he’s not able to play the way he wants to do. So, it’s frustrating for him. You feel bad for the individual more so than anything else. It doesn’t help our team, but you feel worse for the player involved. It killed Josey not to play [Saturday], too. Those are the things that make it hard.”

The lingering injuries caused a ripple effect with Iowa’s lineup. Iowa has compensated for Myers’ injury recently with first-year lineman Tristan Wirfs stepping in at right tackle. Jewell’s replacement was senior Ben Niemann, a three-year starter at outside linebacker. Senior Kevin Ward took Niemann’s spot at outside linebacker. Stepping in for Snyder at free safety was junior Jake Gervase.

Niemann didn’t know he’d replace Jewell for sure until Friday, but he had worked at the position for more than a week. It was the first time Niemann played middle linebacker.

“We knew Josey was banged up and it was a game-time decision on whether he was going to go,” Niemann said.

Jewell has a shot at playing next week, as does Snyder. Myers’ issue continues to linger, and there’s no timetable for his return.

“Hopefully, we get those guys back soon,” Ferentz said. “Josey has got the best chance to get back the quickest.”

Snyder tore an ACL in his knee in early April and returned Oct. 7 against Illinois. Ferentz declined to say whether Snyder was rushed back too quickly.

“Sometimes they leave the stadium fine and they come back Sunday and they’ve got some issues,” Ferentz said. “[Snyder has] got to work back from it. Hopefully, we’ll get him back the next week or the week after.”

After suffering a gruesome elbow dislocation last month against North Texas, running back James Butler began practicing this past week. He traveled with the Hawkeyes to Northwestern and dressed. He went through warmups with a brace over his right elbow but did not play.

“We haven’t had an opportunity to see him handle that,” Ferentz said. “There’s an adjustment period just taking the ball. I don’t know how we’ll test it even full speed.”

Iowa did get some good news with sophomore cornerback Manny Rugamba returning to the starting lineup. Rugamba injured an ankle against Penn State and sat out at Michigan State. Rugamba competed for one play against Illinois, but defensive coordinator Phil Parker said afterward he regretted the move.

Rugamba finished with 6 tackles on Saturday.

“Someone came down on my ankle the wrong way and I got hit the opposite way, so I had a high-ankle sprain,” Rugamba said. “I feel great though.

“I tried to be in treatment room as much as I could and tried to get back on the field as fast as I could and just tried to help on the sidelines with other guys.”

The post Iowa’s injuries take a toll on defense, offensive line in overtime loss at Northwestern appeared first on Land of 10.

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