Iowa Football

Iowa football Tuesday Takeoff: It might be a while on Brandon Smith

The junior wide receiver is out this week and we'll see how long after that

Iowa Hawkeyes wide receiver Brandon Smith (12) is tackled by Purdue Boilermakers defensive end George Karlaftis (5, behind Smith) in the fourth quarter of their NCAA football game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Iowa won 26-20. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes wide receiver Brandon Smith (12) is tackled by Purdue Boilermakers defensive end George Karlaftis (5, behind Smith) in the fourth quarter of their NCAA football game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Iowa won 26-20. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — It’s probably going to be a while until you see wide receiver Brandon Smith.

The junior suffered a leg injury last week against Purdue. The picture you see on this post is the play. Initially, Iowa believed this to be a contusion from a helmet.

There doesn’t appear to be a helmet. There does appear to be some twisting.

From sources, this might take four weeks to get right. We’ll see what Kirk Ferentz says about timetable and if there was a surgery. He talks here in a few.

Quarterback Nate Stanley didn’t divulge any details during Tuesday’s interviews, but he did talk openly about Smith being absent for this week’s game at Northwestern.

“All the other guys on the depth chart at receiver have been doing a great job,” Stanley said. “They’ve been making plays in practice. We feel confident with whoever is out there.”

The timing here is rough. And, again, there’s no official confirm on the potential length of time Smith is out. A few sources have indicated awhile, not all year but that nebulous four weeks.

Smith had career highs of nine catches and 106 yards against Purdue. You’ve seen the offense for seven games. You know the margin of error here probably gets all the more thin.

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“We felt good all year,” Stanley said of Smith. “We felt like we had that connection all year. Unfortunately, things happen in football. Can’t do anything about it.”

And now the Oliver Martin phenomenon.

I’ve been on Twitter for 10 or 11 years. Of course, this makes me a crazy person. It is what you make it, blah blah blah. Things have become increasingly hostile. There’s a layer of frustration and, oftentimes, this is where it’s articulated.

I had kind of filed away Oliver Martin.

I missed offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz’s media availability in mid-September. I was fishing or marrying off my daughter. One of those. Both way better. No offense, Brian.

When asked about Martin, he seemed to flash back to the whole Noah Fant thing from 2018.

“I will tell you right now, I’m not going through that this year,” he said. “This guy plays, that guy doesn’t play — if guys are out there producing, that’s the way it is.”

I would’ve followed with “Who did you go ‘through that’ with?” But, really, doesn’t that answer the question on where Martin is or was?

I defaulted to snap counts. What do they show?

Iowa WR has been a four-man show this season. Tyrone Tracy has the fewest snaps of the top four. He’s at 225 and Martin is 57. Clearly, there’s a top four. Seven receivers have seen snaps this year (Max Cooper/Desmond Hutson).

That only seemed to anger people on Twitter last night. And the emails.

The next question was why is he not playing? If you read Brian Ferentz’s answer, it’s clear they like the other four better. With Smith on the mend, it’s a different story now.

With zero access to practice, I simply can’t tell you why he’s not playing. I can only default to the offensive coordinator’s answer from Sept. 18. Not complaining, but that’s the way it is here.

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Stanley answered that question, the best he could without going into too much detail, on Tuesday.

“He’s putting a lot of attention to detail when he’s running his routes, finishing his routes and then getting in there and blocking guys in the running game as well. We ask our receivers to do a lot of that,” Stanley said. “He’s bought into that and has stepped up and is doing well.”

Smith is an “X” receiver for the Hawkeyes. That’s split end. Stanley said Martin has been practicing slot and Z (where Ihmir Smith-Marsette plays) more than X.

When he arrived at Iowa, everyone said Martin had been practicing the slot (Nico Ragaini’s spot) and the X. Martin has played some X this year.

So, this is a long way of saying, it’s really hard to be definitive in the moment when you have no idea what’s going on in practice.

For that, I apologize. There are some Pringles that my fat hand can’t reach sometimes. T-minus 15 until KF goes here.

Let’s see what we find out.

Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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