116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY - On Tuesday, Tevaun Smith stood about 10 feet away from C.J. Beathard and conducted interviews. Just that in and of itself has Iowa football off to a blazing start to the week.
The wide receiver-quarterback combo were on the field for Iowa's victory over Northwestern two weeks ago. It was Smith's first taste of Big Ten play after he suffered a sprained knee Sept. 26 against North Texas. Beathard limped to the sideline at the end of the Northwestern game, but said Tuesday his hip/groin injury has improved to the point where he's practicing, which is a big improvement from where he started going into Iowa's bye last week.
Smith seems intent on making up for his lost time going into the No. 11 Hawkeyes (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) game this weekend against Maryland (2-5, 0-3).
'Definitely did (make him hungry to return),” said Smith, who's averaged 19.58 yards on 12 catches this season. 'This is my last year and I want to finish it right and with the team. Even for the guys who are out, we want to do whatever we can to make them happy and to make them feel part of a team that could, potentially, be a really special one.”
That thought captures where Iowa is right now. On one hand, the Hawkeyes are one of three remaining unbeatens in the Big Ten. People not named Kirk Ferentz are starting to do championship kind of math.
'Two points we really tried to emphasize with our football team last week,” the Iowa head coach said. 'First part was right now we still have 42 percent of our season left and close to 63 percent of our Big Ten season left in terms of scheduling, so there's a lot of football left.
'And then the second thing is we just gave some illustrations from this past month, not including last Saturday, but last Saturday can include some games as well, just the, quote, unquote, upsets that take place in college football. And the point there is as much as everybody wants to think they know what's going to happen or what should happen, football is pretty unpredictable.”
And now, after suffering a wave of injuries through seven games, the Hawkeyes are seeing some players return to health.
Smith played through his knee sprain, put a sleeve on it and didn't give it a second thought. Then the next day, he couldn't put any weight on it.
'They (team medical staff) were kind of confused, like ‘How did you play on it,'” Smith said. 'I thought no way it could be an ACL or something because I played the rest of the game, but it's crazy how the body works. I'm thankful I only missed two weeks.”
First the bad news, right tackle Ike Boettger and running back Jordan Canzeri will be out for Maryland. Both suffered high-ankle sprains (Boettger on Oct. 10 vs. Illinois; Canzeri against Northwestern on Oct. 17). Canzeri has been Iowa's most productive back, with 698 yards (5.13 yards per carry) and nine TDs.
Ferentz seemed optimistic, but wouldn't pinpoint a return.
'He's making good progress,” Ferentz said. 'It was a lot better two days after than we maybe anticipated, so that's good news, and I think he's feeling better by the day, but to say when he'll be ready to play, I'm not sure yet.”
Along with Smith, running back LeShun Daniels (high-ankle sprain) and offensive tackle Boone Myers (neck/shoulder stinger) have returned to practice and are on track to play.
Myers, a 6-5, 300-pound sophomore, has been out since the first quarter of the North Texas game (Sept. 26). The wait with him has been a return to full strength. If he makes it through practice (and so far, so good, Ferentz said) this week, he will start against the Terrapins, Ferentz said. This would be a boost for Iowa. If nothing else, tackles will again be playing the tackle positions.
Sophomore Sean Welsh jumped in at tackle against Northwestern, replacing Boettger (Ferentz didn't touch on a possible return for Boettger) on the right side. If Myers returns as expected, Welsh would shift to his regular spot at left guard. Myers would take his spot at left tackle, and junior Cole Croston, who replaced Myers when he left the lineup, would move to right tackle. Ferentz said there would be some rotation at guard, likely mixing in true freshman James Daniels, who has been a valuable replacement playing both guard and tackle since all of this mix-and-match started on the O-line.
'We're hoping we can get Boone to the game and then through the game,” Ferentz said, 'at least we've had a positive start to the week.”
As for Daniels, who began the season as Iowa's No. 1 RB, and running back, given that this is Iowa running back - the Hawkeyes never seem to have enough of them - Ferentz said everyone will play, including sophomores Akrum Wadley, the Big Ten offensive player of the week coming out of Northwestern with 204 yards and four TDs, and Derrick Mitchell.
'Just based on recent history,” Ferentz said, with an accent on 'recent,” 'we'll probably need everybody. I don't know what the rotation is, but so far, it hasn't gone according to plan.”
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