IOWA CITY — Junior wide receiver Brandon Smith had a career day last week against Purdue. He set career highs for receptions (nine) and yards (106) in the Hawkeyes’ 26-20 victory over Purdue.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz and quarterback Nate Stanley were asked questions about Smith in the postgame. They said good stuff, but everyone knew how those statements were going to end.
With about four minutes left in the game, Iowa tried a tunnel screen to the 6-2, 218-pound Mississippi native. Smith gained 5 yards, but also took a helmet to his lower right leg.
“As far as the injury goes, so far it’s positive,” Ferentz said in postgame. “They did a (fluoroscopy) or whatever, but sounds like maybe a bone bruise or kick or that type of thing so we’ll keep our fingers crossed on that.”
Smith wasn’t on the depth chart Iowa released on Monday. There’s no definitive read on his status, but, given how Iowa has handled this in the past under Ferentz, not being listed on the depth chart is at least “questionable” status.
Senior linebacker Kristian Welch also wasn’t listed on the depth chart. He left the second half of the Penn State game with an undisclosed injury. Last week, redshirt freshman Dillon Doyle, an Iowa City West grad, and true freshman Jack Campbell split the snaps almost evenly, with Doyle seeing 37 and Campbell 30. Campbell, by the way, has played in five games and is no longer eligible for a redshirt.
Smith was helped off the field and was unable to put pressure on the leg. He also was on crutches.
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“He’s developed his knowledge and the speed in which he processes the game,” Stanley said. “Today there was a route he caught, a diving catch on a third-and-10. He ran a circus route. That’s a play where he has multiple options based on the coverages and I think that shows growth. He recognized it right away and ran the right route.”
Smith’s 33 catches for 407 yards and four TDs are season bests. He entered 2019 with 31 career receptions.
Redshirt freshman Tyrone Tracy is listed as the starter in Smith’s place. He has 15 catches for 218 yards and a TD. Tracy has five drops, but he also leads the Hawkeyes with a 7.2-yard average on yards after catch. Redshirt freshman Calvin Lockett is listed as the backup. He’s yet to play a snap this season.
A couple other trends:
— The Hawkeyes broke open the 4-2-5 cash personnel last week, running that position group more than a dozen times.
True freshman safety Dane Belton was the cash safety. He played 55 snaps. When the cash is on the field, the outside linebacker comes off. Nick Niemann played 17 snaps vs. Purdue.
— Sophomore defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon showed up last week, generating six QB hurries and a QB hit on 22 snaps. Starters Brady Reiff and Cedrick Lattimore played 39 snaps apiece.
— Sophomore Riley Moss replaced junior Matt Hankins during the game last week after Hankins struggled early against Purdue wide receiver David Bell.
Moss ended up with a pick in his 34 snaps. Hankins had 10 tackles in 37.
— Senior Landan Paulsen and redshirt freshman Cody Ince continued their rotation at left guard, with Paulsen seeing 43 snaps and Ince 24.
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Sophomore Mark Kallenberger is the new starter at right guard. He played 59 snaps and was replaced by true freshman Justin Britt, who has now played four games. Ferentz said last week that Britt likely wouldn’t redshirt this year.
— Iowa’s top three personnel groups on offense: 11 (one running back, one tight end) is 231 snaps, 21 (two backs, one TE) is 107 and 12 (one back, two TE) is 88. The Hawkeyes ran eight plays without a TE last week and one play with three TEs.
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