ISU will be without projected starting right guard Luke Vander Sanden for at least seven weeks after the third-year sophomore broke an ankle during a one-on-one drill in Friday's practice. The 6-foot-2, 295-pounder occupied the top spot throughout spring football and had put together a solid opening week of training camp. He had three pins inserted into the ankle during surgery on Friday. ISU head coach Dan McCarney is hopeful that Vander Sanden can return in early October.
"He'll be back hopefully by the open week and play the last seven games of the year," said McCarney. "It sounds like he has a great chance to be ready for the last seven games of the year. It's real sad, because he's just been outstanding. He was outstanding in the spring and in camp up until Friday."
The Cyclones now face the task of finding a replacement in the 12 days leading up to the season opener against Florida State. Senior Dwayne Johnson and true freshman Kory Pence are the leading candidates to take over the roll, with JUCO transfer Emmanuel Valcourt also in the mix.
"The battle is on," McCarney said. "It's Dewayne Johnson, Kory Pence and Emmanuel Valcourt. We're trying to find the next best starter to go with Casey (Shelton), Monty (Bob Montgomery), Butts (Zach Butler) and (Cale) Stubbe. We're letting Pence and Dewayne battle it out right now, working them both out at guard. Then Emmanuel is getting a little work at guard and tackle, but mostly tackle."
As if losing a starting offensive lineman wasn't enough, ISU was dealt another blow on the same day when reserve linebacker Boyd Viers suffered a season-ending knee injury in a one-on-one drill. Viers was coming off of successful shoulder surgery last April and was at 100 percent going into camp. McCarney said Viers will have surgery in the next couple of weeks to repair a torn ACL.
"Luke and Viers are the only two guys we have lost," McCarney said. "Amazingly, both of them were lost in one-on-one drills. We didn't have one kid get a knick in the scrimmage (on Saturday). The day before on Friday, both of them got hurt in one-on-one drills. It's about as safe a drill as you can have. It's just freak."
The loss of Viers won't effect the starting lineup for the Aug. 24 opener against Florida State, but it could force the coaching staff to pull a redshirt off of one true freshman linebacker.
"We're continuing to evaluate all of the young linebackers," McCarney said. "There is a possibility that one of those kids could emerge, but we need more time to evaluate."
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