Iowa CITY. Iowa - The soap opera that is Iowa's running back position dominated the discussion once again at the team's weekly press conference here on Tuesday.
The Hawkeyes lost starter Damon Bullock (head) and back-up Greg Garmon (arm) during Saturday's 27-16 win against Northern Iowa. Barkley Hill tore his ACL in August about five months after this year's projected No. 1, Jordan Canzeri, suffered the same injury.
The stretch of bad luck at the running back position dates back before Canzeri injury. That's just the latest. Let's concern ourselves with the now.
It doesn't sound like Bullock will be in the lineup this Saturday when the Hawkeyes play host to Central Michigan (11 a.m. CT, BTN). Garmon's odds didn't seem a whole lot better.
(I'll) see how the week pans out but I think (Bullock playing is) doubtful at this point," Ferentz said. "And Greg Garmon, he's probably got a little better chance than Damon does and we'll see how the next couple days go before we make any judgments on that. So I think we have to plan as if both guys are not going to be there."
If Bullock and Garmon are sidelined Saturday, the coaches will line up sophomore Mark Weisman at running back. The walk-on is a hot name in Hawkeye circles this week after rumbling for 113 yards and three touchdowns against UNI.
Following Weisman, who started at fullback last week, Iowa will turn to another true freshman (like Garmon). Michael Malloy returns to the field after missing last week's game with illness.
"He would have played Saturday but I think it was the last week at this time he turned up sick," Ferentz said. "Usually those things are 24 hours. You know, a guy can come in during the course of the day.
"It just went on and on. I think they were worried about appendicitis but it cleared up. He's fine and he'll be ready to go hopefully."
Brad Rogers is No. 1 at fullback now with Weisman switching to running back. After that, it's anyone's guess.
It could be Canzeri, believe it or not. He is cleared medically to practice, Ferentz said.
"The medical people tell us when it's safe for them to return," Ferentz said. "Our job is to look at the player practice and perform. It's very conceivable that a guy can be cleared medically and not by us, it depends on the injury and position.
"One day at a time. He was cleared to play last week. It's a matter of when can he...part of that is the player's level of confidence, too. That is a big part of it."
Ferentz attempted to calm expectations for the return of Canzeri but couldn't say he would red shirt the New York native this fall.
"I don't think we're going to have that luxury based on Saturday," Ferentz said. "I think whoever can help this team win is going to help. I just didn't even allow myself to think about it during the course of the summer just because I didn't think it was realistic. But I think he's been cleared now so it's a matter of when is he ready to play."
Canzeri was the feature back in December's Insight Bowl. The true sophomore would have begun spring practice had he not torn his knee ligament in late March during a non-contact drill.
Walk-on Andre Dawson (Cedar Rapids Washington) isn't an option, Ferentz said. It was decided in August that he would be inactive on game days this fall. If he played, he would lose out on his non-athletic scholarship or financial aid per NCAA rules.
You can imagine the opportunity for anarchy there might be if the governing body allowed programs to employ players on non-athletic scholarships or financial aid. We could chip int to create the "Rob Howe Scholarship" for average (at best) journalism and roster about 200 kids.
Senior Jonathan Gimm is the No. 2 FB this week.
Maybe people overreacted to Davis' words. There was talk in Hawkeye Nation that Fiedorowicz might leave early for the NFL if he had a big fall.
"The speculation of him being drafted this year, that's probably premature," Ferentz said. "Let's let him really have a great year this year. I think he's on the right track. And then, we'll see where we're at the end of the year."
Fiedorowicz said teams aren't doing anything special against him.
"I just happen to not be getting the ball as much as people were thinking," he said. "That's fine. We had, what, 400 yards of offense last week? It's not that big of a deal. It's a long year. You never know what's going to happen."
Fiedorowicz has caught 10 passes for 109 yards, the third most on the team in both categories.
Better Days Ahead: True freshman Connor Kornbrath delivered a memorable punt against UNI. Unfortunately, it was one that Iowa would like to forget.
The West Virginia product downed his own 9-yard boot.
"It looked like he was going to cry after the bad one," Ferentz said. "I was thinking about crying myself.
"It's part of the ups and downs we are going to go with. We understood that coming in. He's doing a really good job, works hard, has a great attitude. Again he didn't appear too rattled afterwards, so that was good."
Kids These Days: It's fair to say Ferentz is a traditionalist when it comes to college football. Combine that with his bent towards the understated and you have a man that does not understand alternative uniforms in college football.
"If we wore a different uniform every week, I think that would probably enhance our image with some players," the coach said. "Things like that are things I'm not good at seeing. I need people to help me with that because I have a blind spot there.
"If I understood, I would probably be younger. I just know they do. It's almost unanimous I think they do. That's the world we live in."
Ongoing Contest: Several players still are competing for the third wide receiver position, Ferentz said.
"We have got a help wanted sign up, no doubt about that," the coach said.
Jacob Hillyer gets quite a few reps but still is seeking his first catch. He's mostly asked to block. Jordan Cotton' (one reception) is the only other receiver in that statistics.
"That group overall has practiced a lot better since the start of August," Ferentz said. "I was hopeful and confident, sort of confident, that that was going to show up last week but moving forward. It has to or we're in trouble. I mean, somebody's got to play."
Quick-Hitters: Ferentz said he has not ruled out playing more than the four true freshmen he's already used this season…Kicker Mike Meyer is one extra point away from tying Nate Kaeding's all-time school record for consecutive makes…James Vandenberg, James Ferentz, James Morris and Micah Hyde will be the team's captains for a fourth week in a row.