Kirk Ferentz: James Butler's injury to sideline him 'through the bye week'

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Hawkeyes running back James Butler will be out at least "through the bye week" with a right elbow injury, head coach Kirk Ferentz told in his weekly Sunday conversation.

Iowa running back James Butler leaps over a pile of players during the Hawkeyes' game against North Texas at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017.

"It will be a couple weeks before we get him back," Ferentz told the website.

That means Iowa will be without its No. 2 back at least for games against Penn State (Sept. 23), Michigan State (Sept. 30) and Illinois (Oct. 7). The team has a bye the week of Oct. 14 before traveling to Northwestern on Oct. 21. 

Butler fell awkwardly on his right arm early in the third quarter Saturday. He quickly went to the locker room before returning to the bench with an ice pack on his elbow, and he missed the rest of the game. After the game, Ferentz said he wasn't "overly concerned" about Butler's injury.

Akrum Wadley missed the entire second half against North Texas with a lower-leg injury. But it sounds like he'll be good to go for Penn State.

"I think everybody else has an opportunity to be ready by midweek if not sooner," Ferentz said of players other than Butler who sustained injuries Saturday. "We'll know more in a day or two, but I feel optimistic right now."

Butler has averaged 12 carries per game and has amassed 158 total yards this season. With him sidelined, those carries will fall to redshirt freshman Toren Young or true freshman Ivory Kelly-Martin — or a combination. 

Those two performed well in Wadley and Butler's absence against North Texas. Young rushed for 78 yards on 19 carries; Kelly-Martin rushed for 74 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.

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"They really conduct themselves well," Ferentz said of his young backs Saturday. "Toren is a tough, hard-nosed runner, that's his deal, and Ivory has impressed us with his ability to focus. He's a really quietly serious guy and that's unusual for a guy just out of high school like that. He has a good skill set on top of it.

"To me it was no surprise that they played well. I think we all had really good confidence in them. You always worry about a guy's first couple of carries, just to get his confidence level, but both those guys really did some good things, and they both missed a couple of runs today they will see on film which will help them down the road, but they both gave us — they're a big part of us winning this game."

Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewBain_.