Iowa safety Kaevon Merriweather reflects on his first career start and also explains how he won the job. Listen: Mark Emmert, firstname.lastname@example.org
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa's injury problems in the secondary continue to grow.
Starting free safety Kaevon Merriweather is expected to miss Saturday's game against Rutgers. That means the Hawkeyes will turn to former walk-on and Dowling Catholic product Jack Koerner in Merriweather's place.
Merriweather joins backup cornerbacks Julius Brents (knee) and Riley Moss (leg) on the injured list. Merriweather, who met with the media on Tuesday, suffered an injury in practice Friday.
Koerner, who'll be making his first career start, had just two tackles on special teams last season. But Iowa coaches were high on the redshirt sophomore throughout preseason camp.
“I like the way he competes, the way he thinks about things and how he goes about his business,” defensive coordinator Phil Parker said in late August. “He’s going to put the time and effort into it. It means something to him. Any time you have a little chip on your shoulder, that helps you.”
Still, the inexperience puts even more pressure on strong safety Geno Stone, as well as veteran cornerbacks Michael Ojemudia and Matt Hankins. Iowa's secondary leaders will need to be even sharper against a Rutgers passing attack that threw for 348 yards last week in its 48-21 win over UMass.
Meanwhile, guard Cole Banwart is dressed and is active Saturday. Banwart missed the season-opener with a foot injury. Kirk Ferentz said earlier in the week that Banwart "had a shot" to return.
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.