Iowa's James Daniels likely to miss second straight game

Chad Leistikow

Iowa center James Daniels will likely miss a second consecutive game, but the injury news is more promising for two other starters in the Hawkeye trenches.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz said Sean Welsh should be “ready to go” for Saturday’s 11 a.m., ESPN2-televised game against North Dakota State after the right guard suffered an ankle sprain during a 42-3 win over Iowa State. That’s important, because Welsh was Iowa’s highest-graded offensive lineman against the Cyclones, according to Pro Football Focus.

Iowa center James Daniels (No. 78) blocks against Miami (Ohio) on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. Daniels will likely miss his second straight game this week because of a knee injury.

Look for redshirt sophomore Lucas LeGrand to get his second consecutive start for the 11th-ranked Hawkeyes (2-0) at center against the FCS No. 1-ranked Bison. Ferentz said on the university’s website that he “wouldn’t bet on” Daniels playing Saturday. “Maybe the week after,” in the Big Ten Conference opener at Rutgers, he added.

Daniels, a true sophomore who turns 19 Tuesday, suffered a knee injury on the next-to-last play of last Wednesday’s practice. He was not listed on Iowa's Monday-released depth chart.

Ferentz shared positive news on defensive end Parker Hesse, who appeared to strain his hamstring during a fumble return in the opener against Miami of Ohio. Ferentz compared Hesse's progression with Jay Scheel's the week before. Scheel dressed but did not play in the opener against Miami, but was back for Iowa State and recorded his first career catch.

“(Scheel) was close to being ready the first week; that’s kind of how Parker Hesse was,” Ferentz said. “So hopefully we’ll get him back.”

If Hesse can go, that’ll allow more rotation among the clear top-three defensive ends. Anthony Nelson and Matt Nelson had one sack apiece in carrying most of the workload at that position against the Cyclones.

Tunnel vision?

North Dakota State third-year coach Chris Klieman (a Waterloo native and Northern Iowa alum) was asked during his news conference Monday how often he brings up the program's winning streak against FBS opponents.

"Don't even know what it is,"  Klieman said.

(It's five, coach, and it's in your school's weekly football notes.)

Five-time defending FCS national champion North Dakota State is 8-3 all-time against FBS opponents with consecutive wins against Kansas (6-3 in 2010), Minnesota (37-24 in 2011), Colorado State (22-7 in 2012), Kansas State (24-21 in 2013) and Iowa State (34-14 in 2014). NDSU will play Oregon in 2020 and Colorado in 2024.

Almost a sellout

The university said Monday morning that only scattered single tickets remain for the North Dakota State game. Bison fans travel well, so expect to see quite a bit of green Saturday at Kinnick. If Iowa can reach sellout status, it would be move the tally to three this season -- joining Iowa State (completed) and Michigan (Nov. 12). Iowa hasn’t had multiple sellouts of 70,585 since the 2012 season.

Early kick at Rutgers

Iowa’s Sept. 24 game at Rutgers will kick off at 11 a.m. CT and air on either ESPN2 or ABC. That means at least four of the Hawkeyes next five games will be at 11 – North Dakota State, Rutgers, Northwestern (Oct. 1) and Purdue (Oct. 15). The Oct. 8 specifics at Minnesota have yet to be announced.