Ferentz irritated by Scherff reports; Boettger likely to start

Andrew Logue

Next Man In illustration

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Brandon Scherff is hobbled, and Kirk Ferentz was bristling.

Beyond that, what we know is a little murky.

Scherff, Iowa's starting left tackle and a potential first-round pick in next spring's NFL Draft, was seen Tuesday entering the Hawkeye football complex on crutches.

Ferentz, in his 16th season as Iowa's coach, was evasive about the situation, telling reporters during his weekly press conference that Scherff was "day to day."

One thing is clear: Ferentz wasn't thrilled with a report by KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, which stated Scherff had surgery and would miss two or three weeks.

"You know, I think maybe if you check with KCRG. They're the ones I read who released something on that," Ferentz said when asked for the third time about Scherff. "They could probably fill you in on any details you might need."

For the record, Ferentz did not divulge many details about Scherff's status, or whether he even had surgery.

There's a couple of other reasons the coach might be edgy.

Defensive end Drew Ott was involved in a moped accident, although he is expected to be available this weekend.

Oh, by the way, the Hawkeyes are hosting rival Iowa State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

"Yeah, Brandon injured his knee," Ferentz said. "It's pretty apparent. Outside of that, I don't have much to tell you."

Assuming the 6-foot-5, 320-pound Scherff cannot play against the Cyclones, it likely will be Ike Boettger, a 6-6, 267-pound freshman from Cedar Falls who fills the void.

"Ike is a great football player," senior right tackle Andrew Donnal said. "He's young, but a lot of times you would never even know it.

"He played quarterback in high school, came here as a tight end and he's playing left tackle. Now he's going to get his first start."

With Scherff sidelined, coaches might consider moving Donnal to the left side. Of course, that could make continuity even trickier.

"Cohesiveness is a big part of the game," Donnal said. "And when you lose someone as valuable as Brandon that can be tough.

"But we have 10 other guys who are ready to step in for anyone at any notice."

Scherff was hurt while trying to make a tackle Saturday when a Ball State player picked up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown.

Boettger replaced Scherff during one Hawkeye possession and part of another.

"He handled it really well," Donnal said of Boettger. "The nerves, when you get that first call to go in, sometimes it's a little hard to overcome.

"As an offensive line, we just told him, 'You're ready. You're prepared for this. You're going to do fine.' "

While Boettger seems to be poised for his starting debut, Scherff has more than two dozen starts to his credit.

That's a notable drop in experience for a unit that has already been spotty in Iowa's first two closer-than-expected wins — 31-23 over Northern Iowa and 17-13 over Ball State.

"(Scherff) is a great leader out on the field," Donnal said. "That's something extremely valuable when you're out there.

"This week will be a challenge, where we need some guys to emerge."