Rose Bowl notes: Shuffled O-line, run-game questions

Chad Leistikow
Derrick Mitchell Jr. runs for yardage during Iowa's 40-10 win at Northwestern on Oct. 17. The Hawkeyes' offensive line that day was back together on the practice field Sunday in Carson, Calif.

CARSON, Calif. — The patchwork offensive line that turned in perhaps the Iowa football team's most unlikely performance of the season was back together again Sunday during practice on a beautiful afternoon at the StubHub Center.

The first-team unit, from left to right, was Cole Croston, James Daniels, Austin Blythe, Jordan Walsh and Sean Welsh — the same group that led Iowa to a 40-10 win at Northwestern on Oct. 17. The Hawkeyes steamrolled the Wildcats on that Saturday, piling up 294 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

Starting left tackle Boone Myers was in uniform Sunday, but didn’t line up with the 1s — a sign that he’s nicked up — in an early portion of practice that was open to the media. Ike Boettger, who began the season as the starting right tackle but hasn’t played since spraining his ankle Oct. 10 against Illinois, remains an emergency option for Friday’s Rose Bowl.

Offensive coordinator Greg Davis earlier in the day said that Myers, who suffered a stinger Sept. 26 against North Texas and didn’t return until Oct. 31, “looks like he’ll be fine” to play against Stanford.

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Going with the hot hand

Clarity isn’t likely to come to Iowa’s running back rotation until after 4 p.m. CT Friday — when the ESPN-televised Rose Bowl begins. The Hawkeyes have been going with their healthiest, hottest option all season between Jordan Canzeri, LeShun Daniels Jr. and Akrum Wadley. All three have had games of at least 195 yards this season. Canzeri, Iowa’s leading rusher, is recovering from a sprained ankle.

The only thing for certain, Davis said, is that Derrick Mitchell Jr. will be the third-down back.

“He's really done a good job,” Davis said. “(Beyond that), we'll just kind of rotate LeShun, Jordan — assuming  Jordan doesn't have a setback while we're out here — and Akrum, and kind of who gets a hot hand and … what kind of temperament the game takes on.”

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Recapping Disneyland

This is Iowa tight end Henry Krieger Coble’s first trip to California. But it might be his last to Disneyland. You could say the Mount Pleasant native isn’t a fan of large crowds. Rides were packed Saturday, when the Hawkeye team was turned loose in the legendary theme park.

“I wouldn't have minded just hanging out at the hotel,” Krieger Coble said. “t was like the most busy day of the year the day after Christmas. It was a mess.”

Iowa lineman Jordan Walsh said he only made it on one ride. “The lines were really long,” he said. “But I went to the Indiana Jones ride, which was pretty fun.”

Running back LeShun Daniels Jr. was in heaven, though.

“I had a great time yesterday. That's for sure,” Daniels said. “I'm a really big Star Wars fan, so going around looking at that stuff was pretty sweet.”

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Touching tribute

Matt VandeBerg has been pointing downfield much of the season after he makes a first-down reception. Sunday, the junior receiver explained a deeper origin of it.

A friend, teammate and neighbor of VandeBerg’s from his native Brandon, S.D., named Adam Bauer died in a car accident May 2.

“That was something he did all the time in high school when we got a first down, he would do that,” said VandeBerg, who leads Iowa with 61 receptions. “And it kind of stuck.”

VandeBerg also writes “AB” on his wristband before every game to honor his friend.