Iowa football takeaways: Talking injuries, health, blocking and spin moves
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Wide receiver Tevaun Smith will return to the starting lineup when No. 10 Iowa hosts Maryland Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.
Smith injured his right knee on a first-quarter Sept. 26 game against North Texas.
"I didn't really think anything of it," Smith said.
He stayed in the game and caught an 81-yard touchdown pass from C.J. Beathard in the second quarter. But that night, he couldn't walk on it. Smith had arthroscopic surgery to remove meniscus in the knee and missed the Wisconsin and Illinois games.
Smith made an unexpected return against Northwestern Oct. 17. He had a 20-yard first-quarter catch wiped out by an offensive pass interference call. He also had a 30-yard catch in the second quarter erased by a holding call.
"I'll take 40-10 over two catches any day," Smith said, making reference to the final score.
Left offensive tackle Boone Myers and running back LeShun Daniels are expected to return to action against Maryland.
"Given there are no setbacks in the next couple of days, we'll have those guys back," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday.
Myers has been out since he suffered a stringer against North Texas Sept. 26. Ferentz said that if Myers can play, he'll start. Cole Croston, who has started the last three games in place of Myers, would then move to right tackle. He'll replace Ike Boettger, who will miss his second straight game with a high ankle sprain.
Sean Welsh, who moved from left guard to right tackle to replace Boettger last week, would move back to guard if Myers plays.
Daniels suffered a high ankle sprain against Iowa State the second game of the season. He tried to play through it but has been shut down since the Wisconsin game Oct. 3.
"He's looking better," Ferentz said. "Hopefully he'll look good again (Wednesday) and walk away healthy."
Akrum Wadley, fresh off a 204-yard, four-touchdown game against Northwestern, is listed as the No. 1 back the depth chart, followed by Derrick Mitchell and Daniels.
"We'll play all the guys just based on recent history," Ferentz said. "Our rotation hasn't gone according to plan."
Running back Jordan Canzeri, who sustained a high ankle sprain in the first quarter of the Northwestern game, won't play against Maryland.
"He's making good progress," Ferentz said. "I think he's feeling better by the day. But to say when he'll be ready to play, I'm not sure yet."
There are 8,700 tickets remaining for Saturday's game against Maryland. More than 6,000 tickets have been sold to that game in the last two weeks. Just 800 single tickets remain for the Minnesota game Nov. 14. Iowa's largest home crowd this season was 66,693 for the Oct. 10 homecoming game against Illinois.
Secret to Success
One reason Iowa is running the ball better this season is because of improved blocking from the tight ends and wide receivers.
"Usually big plays, especially in the running game, are a team effort," Ferentz said. "Sometimes in the passing game it might just be a great throw and catch. But for the run to really consistently go and for your yards-per-carry to be good, it usually requires guys on the perimeter doing a good job. I think that's one of the areas we're really improved in."
Iowa backs have rushed for at least 20 yards on 12 occasions this season. The Hawkeyes' 12 plays of 40 yards or more (seven passing, five rushing) already matches last season's total. Iowa is averaging 5.0 yards a carry on the ground this season, compared to 4.1 last season.
"Down the field, the receivers and the tight ends blocking after a route, that's where the huge plays happen," tight end Henry Krieger-Coble said.
Spin Gone Dry
Wadley's trademark move at Weequahic High School in Newark, N.J., was a spin move. He brought that same move to Iowa, but it's been put on the shelf this season.
"The spin was the move I felt I was best at," Wadley said. "But I was getting hit off the spin, and it hasn't been working for me. So I'm trying to juke instead of spin."
Ferentz has praised Canzeri for his blocking ability against the blitz. The Terrapins blitz a lot. And with Canzeri out, blitz pickup will fall on Wadley and Mitchell.
"I thought (Wadley) did a good job when he had to block (at Northwestern), and we've had a chance to practice since that time, too," Ferentz said. "Coincidentally, Derrick Mitchell had a great block (Tuesday) morning on a blitz pickup in a high-tempo drill. So those are things those guys are aware of. And if they're out there, they have to get the job done and they understand that and they've worked hard to achieve that."