Next Men in at DE

With Dominic Alvis sidelined due to injury this week, Iowa will search for depth on its defensive line during practice as it prepares for a challenging Northwestern offense.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - If it weren't for bad luck, Dominic Alvis might not have any luck at all. The senior defensive end will miss Saturday's game against Northwestern after getting knocked out of the last two contests with a trick back. This follows off-season rehab of an ACL tear suffered last November.

"Dom came off the two-deep," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said at his Tuesday press conference. "We'll rest that for a week and see where we're going."

Ferentz said after Saturday's 34-24, Ohio State loss that the injury would be something with which Alvis likely deals for the rest of the season. Junior Mike Hardy stepped in for Alvis the last two games and was expected to received his first college start against the Wildcats (11 a.m., BTN).

"Mike Hardy has really done a good job," Ferentz said. "He's been playing on a regular basis; played a lot in the Michigan State state game, this game as well.  He's done a good job of stepping in there and competing."

Hardy's bump up to the first team with Drew Ott likely means more playing time for true sophomore Nate Meier, who mostly has been used on passing downs this season.

"He plays hard," Ferentz said. "He did that in eight-man football.  Looked like John Riggins out there with a bunch of guys that didn't look like John Riggins.  But he's a very aggressive guy. 

"Like I say, I'm excited to see him play more.  Might be exciting to see him play, some of the things he might do."

The coaches will search for a fourth defensive end this week to move up into Meier's spot, Ferentz said. There isn't much experience available to them.

Redshirt sophomore Riley McMinn played in six games last season but battled injuries then and has again this season.

"Riley is working his way back," Ferentz said.  "He's been practicing the last couple weeks.  He's just coming off an injury. 

"He's also in that mix for that four spot.  We'll see how he practices this week. It's been a week-by-week process for him."

Redshirt freshman Faith Ekakitie has played sparingly this season in mop-up duty.

"He's in the mix of next guys in," Ferentz said. "We'll just see who has the best week in practice."

Linebacker Quinton Alston has seen spot duty at defensive end in passing situations this season. Ferentz said that the junior wouldn't be looked at as an option for the rotation there.

"He's a rush guy," the coach said. "I don't foresee us putting him down there."

Defensive line play could be crucial to this week's outcome against a Northwestern team who regularly employs quarterbacks that create problems for the Hawkeyes. And the issues are as much about the signal caller's legs as his arm, particularly in scrambling situations.

"We really did a poor job with leverage last year in this game," Ferentz said.  "They're a good offensive team.  They test you in every possible way.  We need to get that straightened out.

"But I think, especially a couple that I'm thinking about, they're uncorrectable.  It's inexperience.  Good guys trying hard, but just kind of losing track of where we were, where the ball was.  But you pay for those things.  We did pay."

Wildcats co-starting Quarterback Kain Colter has been listed as questionable for Saturday's game with an ankle injury. He practiced on Tuesday.

Northwestern has used a two-QB system the last two seasons with Trevor Siemian under center when Colter is not. The latter has been used as a receiver.

Colter rushed 26 times for 166 yards and three scores a year ago in a 28-17 win against the Hawkeyes in Evanston. He also completed 6 of 9 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. The Wildcats sliced Iowa for 349 yards rushing on 49 carries (7.1 per attempt).

CURIOUS CASE: Ferentz was asked about Michael Malloy's status on Tuesday for the first time in a few weeks. To this point, the coach only has said his running back is dealing with a medical issue. He didn't offer up much more in his latest comments.

"Mike is still on hold right now," the coach said.

Malloy ran well during an open practice in August. He appeared to be in line for playing time but has not been in uniform for any game this season. True Freshman LeShun Daniels has moved up the depth chart in his absence.

INJURIES ELSEWHERE: Ferentz said that outside of Alvis, he expected everyone else to be available for Saturday's game. That included fullback Adam Cox, who was knocked out of the Ohio State contest with an undisclosed injury.

"All in all, we're in pretty good shape right now," the coach said. 

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