Iowa Football

Even during Iowa football's bye week, beat-up Hawkeyes get more beat up

Starting guard Kyle Schott now among the injured who will miss Saturday's game against Middle Tennessee

Iowa Hawkeyes running back Mekhi Sargent (10) is tackled by Iowa State Cyclones linebacker Marcel Spears Jr. (42) in the first quarter at a college football game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019.  (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes running back Mekhi Sargent (10) is tackled by Iowa State Cyclones linebacker Marcel Spears Jr. (42) in the first quarter at a college football game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — It’s funny some of the little morsels of information you get out of guys at Tuesday’s Iowa football media availability.

Like this one from Mekhi Sargent.

“I’m dominant left hand,” the junior running back said. “Not a lot of people know that. The only thing I really do with my right hand is eat and write. But I throw the ball left. Everything athletic, that’s my dominant hand. Every sport. Like basketball, I’ll dribble left before I go right. I’ll shoot with my left.”

OK, that’s good intel for possible future pickup basketball games at the Field House. That topic came up in conversation, by the way, because Sargent played with an injured right wrist a week and a half ago at Iowa State.

He hurt it in practice the day before that game bracing himself for a fall on the turf. Despite the rumors of a fracture, Sargent said he’s just fine and full-throttle go for Saturday’s game against Middle Tennessee.

“Just a small little mishap at practice. I played through it,” he said. “It was nothing serious. I played my whole senior season with a sprained ankle. But playing in the game, I felt really good. After the game, I felt really good. I’m excited for the rest of the season. I know I’ve got to take care of myself.”

Sargent said he spent Iowa’s bye week last week resting, catching up on schoolwork and watching the Wisconsin-Michigan game on TV. Practice for him and the rest of his teammates who start was cut back.

This was an opportunity for younger guys to get more reps.

“Really just got the young guys in there, had them get a little more extra work during the practice,” safety Geno Stone said. “It was a light practice the first couple days, (full) practice Monday, Wednesday and Friday. So it was more (development) work for the young guys, to get them going. Get our young guys ready to go if they need to go in.”

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They definitely have needed to go in the first three games. Iowa has been plagued by injuries, especially on the back end of the defense.

Kaevon Merriweather, Julius Brents, Riley Moss, Matt Hankins, you know the names. According to Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, none of those guys will play against Middle Tennesse, and neither will offensive tackle Alaric Jackson, who still has not fully recuperated from a knee injury suffered in the opener against Miami (Ohio).

Despite being listed on the two-deep roster Monday, starting defensive tackle Riley Reiff is a no go as well. Ferentz said that was his bad for having him listed.

“The other guys are moving along and getting better, but we’re not making any significant progress or significant news on the injury front,” Ferentz said. “That’s kind of where that’s at.”

Having a bye didn’t even make the Hawkeyes immune from adding to the injury list. Ferentz said starting right guard Kyler Schott, the feel-good walk-on story from North Linn, will miss a couple of weeks after hurting a foot in practice.

Cole Banwart, who started a lot last season, will slide into his spot.

“We have got a lot of guys out,” Ferentz said. “It’s concerning every week. It was extremely concerning the last time we played. I looked over today, and half our two-deep in the secondary is in street clothes watching practice. We are working with the guys on the field.

“So the good thing about it is it creates opportunity for other players, and that’s how we’ll look at it and continue to look at it that way. At some point, we’ll get guys back. It’s been slow, that’s all.”

Middle Tennessee (1-2) certainly will test Iowa’s depleted secondary. The Blue Raiders spread you out with four receivers, with sophomore quarterback Asher O’Hara the team leader in passing (obviously) and rushing.

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O’Hara actually has led Middle Tennessee in rushing in all three of its games, losses to Michigan and Duke and a win over Tennessee State.

“I played against him (when he was) at the College of DuPage and I was at Iowa Western,” said Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon. “So I know how aggressive and dynamic he is ... The man is fast, he’s elusive. He’ll make you miss. If you don’t break down and wrap him up, he’ll make you miss and break tackles. He likes to jump a lot. I feel like that’s a crazy thing. I know some people like to hurdle. Running backs and wide receivers. But I’ve never seen a quarterback really hurdle someone. This man will hurdle you in a heartbeat.”

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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