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IOWA CITY — It’s hard to tell if it was the defensive tackle landing on him or if it was the linebacker that blasted him on the left. But that was Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard on the turf last weekend, with both hands gripping the neck of his shoulder pads.
Beathard got up and took a few minutes to get his bearings. He eventually left the game with a shoulder/collarbone injury. When his replacement, true freshman Nathan Stanley, completed a pass on his first play, the ESPN cameras showed Beathard raise his right arm in joy. The left arm, that stayed down where the Iowa training staff checked it out.
In the postgame of No. 25 Iowa’s 23-21 defeat to North Dakota State, Beathard spent three words on the health question, basically saying he’s OK.
During his Sunday night conversation with Iowa sports information, head coach Kirk Ferentz said Beathard had X-rays after the game and they were negative.
“That’s good news,” Ferentz said. “He may be a little sore during the week, but he should be full speed Saturday.”
Saturday is Iowa’s Big Ten opener against Rutgers (2-1) in Piscataway, N.J. It’s an 11 a.m. kick on ESPN2.
The Hawkeyes (2-1) fell to an FCS school for the first time in 14 games without two of their starting O-linemen in the lineup. Guard Sean Welsh (ankle) and center James Daniels (knee) missed the game. It was the second week Daniels sat out. Welsh suffered the ankle injury late in the first half against Iowa State.
Sophomore Lucas LeGrand got his second start at center. Sophomore Keegan Render replaced Welsh.
Ferentz said Sunday that Daniels was in “good shape” for a return to the lineup this weekend. Ferentz also said Welsh will “hopefully get back in the rotation” and that the two help “fortify” the line a little bit. Ferentz said in postgame that both could’ve played, but they missed too much practice to be ready for a game.
Welsh and Daniels were listed as starters on the depth chart Iowa released on Monday.
The Hawkeyes were held to 34 yards rushing against the Bison. It was their worst performance since being held to 23 yards against Michigan State on Oct. 5, 2013. That’s a span of 36 games.
Running back Derrick Mitchell, who holds the third-down back role, missed NDSU after suffering an injury in practice this week. Ferentz said he hoped Mitchell would be back this week.
Running back Akrum Wadley is nursing a sore knee, something he injured going into Iowa State. Against the Cyclones, he rushed nine times for 49 yards and a TD and caught a 26-yard TD pass. Against NDSU, Wadley had just five touches for 27 yards. His last carry was with about five minutes left in the third quarter.
After playing just nine snaps this season before suffering a hamstring injury, sophomore defensive end Parker Hesse returned against NDSU and played 44 snaps.
Redshirt freshman Brett Waechter was listed as the No. 2 left tackle for the Miami (Ohio) game and played some snaps in the opener. He hasn’t been in uniform the last two weeks. Sophomore cornerback Joshua Jackson also wasn’t in uniform against NDSU.
11 (one back, one tight end, three WRs) — 3 rushes for 5 yards; 4 of 4 passes for 42 yards and a TD
11 shotgun — 4 rushes for minus-6 yards; 5 of 14 for 29 yards and a TD
21 (running back, fullback, one TE, two WR) — 5 runs for 7 yards; 1 of 3 for 37 yards
22 (two backs, two TEs) — 5 runs for 11 yards
12 (one back, two TEs) — 5 rushes for 26 yards; 3 of 3 for 89 yards passing and a TD
23 (two backs, three TEs) — No goal line
Notes: The two sacks and the hit on Beathard that forced the pick six were all out of 11 shotgun. All three also were wonderfully executed blitzes by NDSU and not one-on-one physical breakdowns along the OL. Did Stanford and the numbers game it ran against Iowa in the Rose Bowl open the door to copycats?
Go to Pro Footbal Focus and totally dig into that site. Learn about football. Get smarter. Win arguments. That’s the whole point of what they do and what I try to do (sometimes not as great as others).
Iowa’s run blockers ranked by PFF (starting O-line, fullbacks and TE):
1. TE Peter Pekar
2. OT Ike Boettger
3. (tie) fullbacks Brady Ross and Drake Kulick
4. (tie) OT Cole Croston and C Lucas LeGrand
5. (tie) TE George Kittle and G Boone Myers
6. G Keegan Render
The good news: This was junior TE Peter Pekar’s most productive week. He played 19 snaps and had the only positive grade in run blocking. This shouldn’t be a surprise. You already know Iowa rushed for 34 yards. OT Ike Boettger was a neutral grade. Everyone else posted negative scores.
PFF’s top pass blocker this week
Right guard Keegan Render scored the highest grade. Ike Boettger and Boone Myers also were positive grades. No negative numbers here. LeGrand was tagged with a pair of QB hurries.
Best PFF overall grades for the offense this week
1. TE Peter Pekar
2. QB C.J. Beathard
3. OT Ike Boettger
4. (tie) WR Matt VandeBerg and RB LeShun Daniels
5. WR Riley McCarron
Sean Welsh has been one of Iowa’s most consistent high graders. He’s back this week. Iowa posted just four positive numbers — Peker, Beathard, Boettger and QB Nathan Stanley, who completed two passes for 45 yards in five snaps.
— PFF had the Bison down for nine blitzes, with Beathard completing 3 of 7 passes with one scramble and one sack. He was pressured on 10 of 16 drop backs.
— NDSU sold out to stop Iowa’s inside zone, holding the Hawkeyes to just seven rush attempts between the guards and center for 17 yards. Iowa’s only running play of impact was an 18-yarder by Akrum Wadley that went through RT Boettger for 18 yards.
— WR Jerminic Smith was graded harshly for the drop he had at the end of the first half. It hurt. It was a 16- or 20-yard gain on a first down in a two-minute drill at the end of the half. He had positives, running a nice route to free Riley McCarron for his 30-yard TD. He also recovered the Kittle fumble at the end of his 51-yard gain.
Iowa’s run defenders ranked by PFF (starting D-line and linebackers)
1. CB Desmond King
2. DT Faith Ekakitie
3. DT Nathan Bazata
4. (tie) LB Josey Jewell and CB Greg Mabin
5. LB Bo Bower
6. (tie) DE Anthony Nelson and OLB Ben Niemann
7. DE Parker Hesse
Iowa allowed 239 rushing yards (281 before negative rushes and sacks are counted), but the grades weren’t terrible. This clearly reflects how Desmond King was used against the run (he had to be, right) and his value as a tackler and, really, just overall really good player. Maybe this was DT Faith Ekakitie’s best game. He played 44 snaps and was one of three positive scores against the run (King and Bazata were the other two). Safeties Miles Taylor and Brandon Snyder were the lone negative scores.
Best PFF overall grades for the defense this week
1. CB Desmond King
2. DT Faith Ekakitie
3. LB Josey Jewell
4. DE Anthony Nelson
5. CB Greg Mabin
Again, Iowa’s corners showed up in run support. There were seven positive grades (King, Ekakitie, Jewell, A. Nelson, Mabin, Niemann and Bazata). There were only two overall negative grades (Taylor and Snyder).
— Where did the safeties get dinged? They combined for three missed tackles. They gave up five completions in eight total targets for 61 yards and a TD (Snyder also had a pick). TE Connor Wentz was a handful for Taylor, allowing two completions in two targets for 38 yards.
— The Bison ran to the right of the center and into the weakside 13 times for 94 yards (7.2 average).
— Running back/wing back/guy who ran some jet sweeps and faked a bunch Bruce Anderson had 69 yards on just six touches. He caught passes in front of Jewell and Snyder. He gave NDSU enough of an outside threat to keep Iowa’s eyes on him, while RB King Frazier did damage (16 carries for 99 yards and a TD) between the tackles.