Highlights from Iowa's 10-6 win in Madison
It might be time to get to know Cole Croston and Jerminic Smith a little bit better.
Both players had their names launched to the top of the Iowa football depth chart for the first time Monday after they experienced their first career starts in Saturday’s 10-6 win at Wisconsin.
Croston’s ascent to No. 1 left tackle is especially notable because Boone Myers’ name was taken off the depth chart altogether. That puts Myers’ status, including for 5-0 Iowa’s 11 a.m. ESPNU-televised game vs. Illinois (4-1) on Saturday, under an indefinite cloud. Myers suffered a stinger early against North Texas on Sept. 26, and he didn’t make the trip to Wisconsin despite being listed No. 1 all week. After the game, head coach Kirk Ferentz called the sophomore’s status “more day-to-day, week-to-week. Hopefully day-to-day.”
Ferentz didn’t seem concerned about Croston’s lack of game experience. Croston is a fourth-year junior, a walk-on from Sergeant Bluff who was awarded a scholarship prior to the season. His dad, Dave, was a three-year starter on Iowa’s offensive line in the 1980s.
“He’s done a great job. He’s not a senior but he falls in that group,” Ferentz said Saturday. “Boone’s started four (games), and Cole’s started one. He’s catching him.”
Croston got his first significant experience vs. North Texas
And now he’s passed Myers on the depth chart. That doesn’t mean Myers won’t play, or even start, against the Illini. Ferentz on his radio show last week said he prefers to talk about the healthy players, not the injured ones. “Maybe gamblers are interested,” he said. “But a lot of time gets wasted on injury discussions.”
Croston, 6-foot-5, 295 pounds, felt he played “all right” against the Badgers, and he did have a key recovery of a Jordan Canzeri fumble late in the game.
“First series I was a little nervous,” Croston said. “Camp Randall’s a big stadium. Getting that first series out of the way was really nice.
“You just have to prepare like you’re going to start, like (offensive line coach Brian Ferentz) says. We came out here, and I got the start. I feel like I was well-prepared.”
Smith, meanwhile, is in line for his second college start but still seeking his first official catch. He got four targets against Wisconsin while subbing for starter Tevaun Smith, who will likely miss the next two games with a knee injury. Kirk Ferentz said he expected his senior big-play threat to return Oct. 31 against Maryland.
Iowa’s media policy restricts interviews with first-year freshmen, but Jerminic Smith did tell the university’s website in September he was thrilled with the opportunity receivers coach Bobby Kennedy presented to him, and he took advantage in fall camp.
"Coach BK is a straight-up guy," said Smith, who had 76 receptions as a high school senior in Garland, Texas, for 1,207 yards and 13 touchdowns. "He let me know that if I work, I will have a chance to play, so I was all in."
Smith (6-1, 180) had four receptions during Iowa’s Kids Day scrimmage and has quickly vaulted past other young names at receiver like Andre Harris, Jonathan Parker and Jay Scheel.
Illinois' top running back unlikely to play
Josh Ferguson, Illinois' top running back and playmaker, is "very doubtful" to play against Iowa, coach Bill Cubit said Monday. Ferguson suffered a shoulder injury during Saturday's 14-13 win over Nebraska. True freshman Ke'Shaun Vaughn (5-10, 205) will likely start. He has 326 yards on 75 carries this season.
“I’m not optimistic, but I wouldn’t put anything past him," Cubit said, not completely ruling Ferguson out. "You just go to the next guy.”
Illinois will also be without sophomore wide receiver Mike Dudek, who is recovering from knee surgery. Dudek was a freshman all-American last season with 1,038 receiving yards, and it was initially hoped that he could return by midseason.
NO. 22 IOWA (5-0, 1-0) VS. ILLINOIS (4-1, 1-0)
When, where: 11 a.m. Saturday, Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City
TV: ESPNU (Announcers: Clay Matvick and John Congemi)
The spread: Iowa by 11.5