Iowa football: How close Alaric Jackson is to returning to starting lineup
Kyler Schott, the undersized but enthusiastic walk-on from Coggon, is forcing his way into the long-term plans on Iowa’s offensive line.
Hawkeye offensive line coach Tim Polasek, speaking on the “Hawk Central” radio show on 1460 KxNO on Wednesday, said Schott would be in line to start at right guard if there was a game this week, even though junior Cole Banwart has recovered from a foot injury.
Schott, generously listed at 6-foot-2, started Saturday’s 18-17 win over Iowa State and split time with Banwart. Polasek said he’s happy to watch those two compete in practice and then choose “the hot hand” when it comes to who starts that week’s game. No. 18 Iowa (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten Conference) next hosts Middle Tennessee State at 11 a.m. Sept. 28.
“Cole Banwart provides something that ‘Shooter’ doesn’t have, which is experience, being able to react to some situations. And those things showed up on Saturday. (Schott) could have handled some things a little better,” Polasek said.
“It’s going to be a little bit of a week-to-week, who’s practicing well, who’s winning in one-on-ones. If we played tomorrow, I think Shooter goes. What I do think it’s going to provide is a competitive spirit at practice and it’s going to give us an edge.”
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Schott was pressed into action in Iowa’s season-opening win over Miami (Ohio) when starting left tackle left Alaric Jackson suffered an injury to his right knee. Polasek moved Levi Paulsen from left guard to fill that spot.
Schott has held his own ever since. Polasek said he used the sophomore as an example to his entire line during a recent film session.
“A guy like Shooter gets an opportunity because all he does is continue to plug away at it,” Polasek told his players.
“He’s really tough. His want-to and his attitude and his effort is right when he’s on the football field.”
But Polasek said Schott is more than just a feel-good story for this season.
“He can be better. We need him to be a better player,” Polasek said. “And his story, his legacy, hasn’t been fully written yet.”
Alaric Jackson could return next week from knee injury
Polasek said Jackson, a junior, could be in line to return to game action against Middle Tennessee. He said Jackson’s knee is bruised in addition to the soft-tissue damage. Surgery was not required. Polasek said doctors provided some encouraging news on the injury a few days ago.
“We’re just kind of taking it day-by-day. He’s working at staying involved with the group,” Polasek said of Jackson.
“He’s got a smile on his face and he’s in good spirits. And I know he’ll be back when he can be.”
Mark Kallenberger gets message: 'I can give more to the program'
Sophomore Mark Kallenberger has been seeing time at left tackle in Jackson’s absence as Polasek continues to shuffle players in and out of the lineup. Polasek has publicly challenged Kallenberger this spring and summer to give a better effort in practices even though it didn’t appear there was a starting job for him in the fall.
Polasek has been happy with Kallenberger’s response.
“About three or four weeks ago, I think Mark kind of shook his head and said, ‘Coach, you know you’re right. I can give more to the program. I can compete better. I can try to dominate the details better.’” Polasek said.
“Guys sometimes need (playing time) to be right in front of them for it to be real. And that’s not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for guys to take advantage of every opportunity they have every day.”
That’s what Kallenberger has done, Polasek said.
“Can he sustain this?” Polasek wondered of the Bettendorf native who may be a starter next season if Tristan Wirfs and/or Jackson depart early for the NFL. “Because he needs to for us to be the best that we can be.”
Don't forget Cody Ince and Justin Britt
Polasek provided updates on two other young linemen who have been getting time at the guard spots.
Regarding redshirt freshman Cody Ince, who is 6-4 ¼: “He has the ability to play taller than that in the pass protection game. He got a hamstring injury, a little tweak, during the first field goal on Saturday and that’s why he kind of didn’t show up. Whether he’s a full go down the road, we’ll see.”
On true freshman Justin Britt, who will not redshirt this season: “He’s a full go. … We’re pushing forward with Justin because he is going to be competing for a (starting) job here before long.”
Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.
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