Iowa Football

Iowa football notebook: All kinds of redshirt talk

Still a lot up in the air going into Purdue game

Iowa Hawkeyes running back Ivory Kelly-Martin (21) runs during the second quarter of their Big Ten Conference football game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes running back Ivory Kelly-Martin (21) runs during the second quarter of their Big Ten Conference football game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — We know two true freshman players who won’t be redshirting this season.

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said there will be at least a third. And there could be at least one non-freshman who does redshirt.

Offensive lineman Justin Britt joined the two-deep roster this week as backup right guard to Mark Kallenberger, and Ferentz said it is full speed ahead with him the rest of the season.

“We’ve made the decision that he’s playing,” Ferentz said. “He’s definitely a guy we are going straight ahead with.”

Britt is a 6-foot-5, 290-pounder from Indianapolis who has played in three games so far this season. Per NCAA rules, you can play in four and still redshirt.

But Iowa is struggling to find a consistent offensive line, especially at the guard positions. With junior Cole Banwart out for the season now because of injury, it appears Britt, who didn’t play his senior prep season because of knee surgery, is definitely going to get a shot.

“We are just looking for the best combination there,” Ferentz said of his line. “We’re not playing well enough on the line right now. Not cohesively enough.”

Running back Tyler Goodson and tight end Sam LaPorta are the lone true freshmen thus far to surpass the four-game threshold. Goodson has played in all six games for the Hawkeyes and has 252 rushing yards and 15 catches for 92 yards.

LaPorta has played in five games without accumulating a statistic.

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Linebacker Jack Campbell has played in four games, almost exclusively on special teams, meaning his redshirt goes out the door if he plays another minute. Other true freshmen who have played are wide receiver Desmond Hutson (two games) and defensive backs Jermari Harris (two) and Dane Belton (one).

Interestingly, guys like free safety Kaevon Merriweather and cornerbacks Julius Brents and Riley Moss, all sophomores, could still get redshirts.

Merriweather was a starter for Iowa’s first game against Miami (Ohio) but incurred an injury in practice the day before the second game against Rutgers. He has been pronounced healthy and available but has not played since the opener.

Brents and Moss were forced into action as starters last season but suffered injuries that have sabotaged their 2019 seasons. Brents has played in one game, Moss two.

Moss was part of nickel packages against Penn State last week, so it’d be surprising if he redshirts.

Ferentz also mentioned the possibility of redshirting junior running back Ivory Kelly-Martin. Goodson’s emergence has left Kelly-Martin, who played two years ago as a true freshman and had six starts last season, as fourth on the depth chart.

“Right now, it would be smart to try and protect him if we can,” Ferentz said. “But we’re also trying to win this year. So we’ll try and stay flexible on that. But, yeah, we’d sure like to not waste a year of his eligibility if we can.”

How good is this defense?

Defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon was asked that question Tuesday. His answer, at least when it comes to potential, was interesting.

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“Our defense can be the best defense in college football,” Nixon said. “We’ve just got to make sure we focus on every little detail that we can. And continue to play our hardest every game, every snap.”

Iowa ranks fourth in the Big Ten Conference and fifth nationally in total defense, allowing 260.8 yards per game. Wisconsin is first in the nation, followed by Ohio State, Clemson and Penn State.

Iowa ranks third in the conference and seventh nationally in passing defense (160.0 ypg) and is fourth/17th in rushing defense (100.8 ypg).

The Hawkeyes allow 10.2 points per game, which ranks fourth in the league and fifth in the nation. Wisconsin is No. 1, followed by Penn State, Oregon and Ohio State.

This Koerner a solid safety

Iowa’s Jack Koerner had a career-high 13 tackles last Saturday night against Penn State. That led the team.

A walk-on sophomore from West Des Moines Dowling, he has pretty much locked down the free safety position, taking over from game one starter Merriweather when Merriweather was injured in practice the day prior to the Rutgers game Sept. 7.

Koerner’s 13 tackles were the most for an Iowa player since Josey Jewell had the same number against Purdue in 2017.

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

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