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Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley reflects on the 56-14 win in Lincoln in 2017. Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central

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IOWA CITY, Ia.  — Last Tuesday, Kirk Ferentz seemed optimistic that Brandon Smith would be available in some capacity against Illinois. That didn't happen.

Now, one week later, the Iowa coach delivered a more ominous update. 

"Brandon Smith is doing some things this week. We'll see how effective he can be, but he's clearly not 100 percent," Ferentz said at Tuesday's press conference. "At this point, we'll just play that one by ear."      

It's been touch-and-go for Smith since suffering an ankle injury Oct. 19 against Purdue. He's played one play in the last four games. Although he dressed against Illinois, Smith still watched Iowa's 19-10 win from the sidelines.

"It's really hard to predict recoveries from any injuries," Ferentz said. "I think he was doing pretty well, came out of the gates strong, and then has plateaued a little bit. It's one of those deals, and there's no way to predict it. Just hard to deal with no matter what unless you're back full speed. You're not happy.

"The good news is he's not a senior... If there's any consolation for Smith, it's that he's got another year."     

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 msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard. 

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