Kirk Ferentz discusses possible two-quarterback approach

Rick Brown

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday that the loss of Darian Cooper "is a blow to us just because he’s such a great guy. A good football player, a tremendous guy. He brings a great energy to our football team."

IOWA CITY, Ia. -- Each week this season, Hawkeyes columnist Rick Brown will offer five takeaways from Kirk Ferentz's weekly news conferences. Here's the buzz before Saturday's game vs. Northern Iowa:

TWO QUARTERBACKS? There's been a lot of talk about Iowa's football team giving opponents a two-quarterback look this season, with C.J. Beathard coming off the bench to relieve starter Jake Rudock in certain situations.

"We're still thinking about that," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday. "I don't know when, where or how."

Asked who his third quarterback is, Ferentz said, "Let's not even talk about that."

But then he did.

"In all seriousness, Tyler Wiegers is our third guy," Ferentz said of the true freshman from Lake Orion, Mich. "That's just the way it goes. We'd sure like to redshirt him. But we're playing to win. He is clearly our third guy."

Someone mentioned that standout left offensive tackle Brandon Scherff played quarterback in high school at Denison.

"You might see me heading to the locker room if that happens," Ferentz said.

COPING WITH COOPER LOSS: With junior defensive tackle Darian Cooper out for the season after knee surgery Sunday, that speeds up the learning curve for backup tackles Jaleel Johnson, Faith Ekakitie and Nathan Bazata.

"Those are three guys that we thought were really making progress in December," Ferentz said. "With or without Coop, it's something we felt was important, that those three develop. And I think they are making progress, mainly because Louis (Trinca-Pasat) and Carl (Davis) aren't going to be here next year. So it's really important that those guys continue to move on."

Ferentz said the loss of Cooper "is a blow to us just because he's such a great guy. A good football player, a tremendous guy. He brings a great energy to our football team. He'll be with us, but he won't be there on the field. That's a tough thing, just because he's worked extremely hard. You just hate to see that with any player."

FULL RIDE: Redshirt freshman walk-ons Boone Myers and Bo Bower got called into Ferentz's office late last week.

"The first thing I tell them is they're not in trouble, because they're up there in my office," Ferentz said. "They're thinking they got called up to the principal's office."

Ferentz had good news. He told Myers, the backup left offensive guard, and Bower, in contention for a starting linebacker position, that they were being put on scholarship.

"We are awfully impressed with both those guys," Ferentz said. "That's why we recruited them so hard to come here. It's a leap of faith for them because they came as a walk-on. They've worked extremely hard and an opportunity opened in both their cases. It's a credit to both of them, and we hope that they have great futures in the program."

Fullbacks Adam Cox, out for the season after knee surgery, and Macon Plewa were put on scholarship earlier this fall.

QUICK RECOVERY: Damond Powell had hernia surgery and wasn't expected to be ready for the start of the season. But Iowa's fastest receiver has made a speedy recovery and could play Saturday.

"He's ahead of the charts," Ferentz said. "I don't know if those charts are based on my age or that of a young athlete who's actually in good shape. Damond's a pretty resilient guy. And he's come back quickly. His attitude has been great all the way through."

Powell, who caught 12 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns last season, including a 74-yarder at Minnesota, will help Iowa's passing game stretch the field. He had contact in practice for the first time last week. He is listed as the No. 2 wide receiver behind Jake Hillyer on the depth chart.

"He's looked good out there in practice," Ferentz said. "He's got some catching up to do, but at least he'll be with us and helping us out."

FRESHMEN ON PARADE: Ferentz said two true freshmen, safety Miles Taylor and linebacker Ben Niemann, are poised to play this season.

Ferentz also said the staff has toyed with using true freshman Aaron Mends, a linebacker, at fullback to help cover for the loss of Cox, who is out for the season after knee surgery. Mick Ellis would also play as a true freshman if he beats out Marshall Koehn for the place-kicking job.

EXTRA POINTS: Ferentz said he considered redshirting running back LeShun Daniels this season. But the sophomore has looked so good in camp that Ferentz passed on the idea …backup wide receiver Riley McCarron is out for several weeks after injuring a shoulder in the public scrimmage August 16. He could be back after the Oct. 4 bye week. "It's a loss for us because he was doing a lot of things for us really well," Ferentz said … More than 5,000 tickets remain for Saturday's season opener … Saturday's captains, picked by the Football Leadership Group, will be Louis Trinca-Pasat and Quinton Alston on defense and Brandon Scherff and Mark Weisman on offense.