IOWA CITY, Iowa - An already fragile linebacker situation sustained a big hit at the end of Saturday's Minnesota game when Travis Perry was lost for the rest of the regular season with a leg injury. The junior from Urbandale started the last two weeks in the middle.
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday that Quinton Alston will return to middle linebacker this week after playing mostly on the weak side the last two games. He started the first seven contests in the middle.
Reggie Spearman, who started the first seven games at Will, returns to the active roster after missing the last two weeks following an OWI arrest.
"He'll try to work back in the rotation at Will. And Cole (Fisher) will float a little bit," Ferentz said.
The coach also said that senior Chad Gilson will work back at linebacker after spending the last few weeks helping the depth at fullback. He'll back up Alston in the middle.
"We borrowed him on the other side," Ferentz said. "And it's a tough one there. We can't get him on the field. And I'm really glad he's on our team. He's a great young guy. But he's kind of caught right now behind some other guys."
True freshman Ben Niemann backs up Bower at LEO.
QUARTERBACK CUT-DOWN: C.J. Beathard played in six of nine games this season with one start. The back-up quarterback was inserted into the last two contests with the outcome well in hand, one a loss and the other a win.
After leading the team to a win at Pittsburgh in relief of injured starter Jake Rudock and then starting and going to whole way in a victory at Purdue, Ferentz said he would find time for both signal callers moving forward. Tuesday, that seemed less likely.
"We really haven't had a lot of discussion. So we'll just keep playing here, see where it all goes," the coach said.
THE GOOD AND THE BAD: Akrum Wadley burst onto the scene with 15 carries for 105 yards two weeks ago against Northwestern. The freshman running back followed that up with nine for 68 at Minnesota. He's the only Hawkeye to exceed the century mark in a game this season.
The draw back for Wadley has been ball security. He's fumbled in each of the last two contests. Classmate Jonathan Parker experienced something similar when he gave the ball away twice in a Week 2 win against Ball State and Iowa stuck with him.
"With younger guys, you'll have to ride the roller coaster a little bit and you hang on. But as long as they're demonstrating in the areas we evaluate that they're really trying to move forward, then you just gotta live with those things sometimes," Ferentz said.
"And we're coaching them, don't get me wrong. But all that being said, you can bring back Vince Lombardi, there's certain things that are going to happen sometimes and you just gotta try to weather that."
The Hawkeyes don't tackle the running backs in practice so it's tough for the coaches to get a true gauge on if it's an issue or not.
GETTING HEALTHY: After missing the Northwestern game with an ankle injury, Jordan Canzeri returned to practice last week. The junior running back dressed and warmed up at Minnesota but did not see the field.
"He was eligible to play the other day. He didn't look great in practice. And I told Steve I don't think putting Walter Payton in would have changed things on Saturday. There's no sense having him go backwards. So we expect him to be healthier and hopefully he'll be part of our rotation Saturday," Ferentz said.
EXTRA POINTS: Illinois will be the third Iowa opponent in a row coming off of a bye week…the Hawkeyes have not beaten an FBS team with a winning record this season and the combined record of those teams is 16-30. Their three Big Ten wins have come against schools (Northwestern, Purdue, Indiana) that have compiled a 3-14 conference mark…Iowa has not played Illinois since 2008, a 27-24 Illini victory in Champaign.