The Register's Chad Leistikow previews Iowa's trip to the Rose Bowl, including preparation and injury updates.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Health care is a kitchen-table issue the Iowa football team — and no, this isn’t a story about the Iowa Caucuses.
With nearly a month off between the Dec. 5 Big Ten Conference championship game and the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl, the 12-1 Hawkeyes are using (and in some cases needing) almost every one of them to heal.
“Really fortunate,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday, two days before his team boards a plane for Southern California, “because we probably would have had some key guys missing that next Saturday.”
Linebacker Ben Niemann and safety Jordan Lomax were noticeably limping around the Iowa Football Performance Center on Tuesday. But perhaps nobody needed this time more than senior defensive end Nate Meier, who hobbled his way through the 16-13 Big Ten title-game loss to Michigan State with various injuries — leg, elbow, you name it.
“This, and this and then this,” he said, pointing at various parts of his body like it was an Operation game-board.
Meier joked that they’ve got his name inscribed in the training room. Iowa's top pass rusher since Drew Ott was lost for the season said his health was "getting better."
“A lot of treatment,” Meier said with a laugh. “Every day.”
Quarterback C.J. Beathard, who has been nagged by groin and other injuries since Week 3 of the season, didn’t sound 100 percent, either.
“Still recovering,” he said, “but getting better each and every day.”
The Iowa junior quarterback has his eyes set on Pasadena.
The best news came from fifth-year senior running back Jordan Canzeri. Iowa’s leading rusher injured his right ankle on the second carry of the Big Ten title game. But he declared himself 100 percent Tuesday, saying that this sprain was less severe than the one he suffered on his left ankle Oct. 17 against Northwestern that kept him out three weeks.
“I’m ready to go,” said Canzeri, who is 24 yards shy of becoming Iowa’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2011. “I’m very grateful for the medical staff that helped me get to this point in time.”
Ferentz, as is often the case with coaches, wasn’t as definitive as his player.
“You just never know,” Ferentz said. “We're 10, 11 days out, so that's encouraging. Time is on our side. And hopefully he'll have the pop and explosion we need to be successful at that position.”