The hot topic for the Iowa Hawkeyes football program this week is not the big rivarly win over Iowa State. Instead, it's on to the next opponent and whether or not they will have defensive end Drew Ott and running back LeShun Daniels available.
Ott injured his elbow during the game against the Cyclones and had his arm in a sling while on the sideline for the remainder of the contest. Daniels injured his ankle, and though he tried to jog it off, and even spent time on the stationary bike, he was not able to return.
This is a critical storyline for the Hawkeyes this week because these are two important players. The presence of Daniels has helped revive the Iowa running game, a staple of the team under head coach Kirk Ferentz in every season they have been successful. Drew Ott is arguably the best player on the team, is sometimes unblockable off the edge, and is also considered one of the best players in all of the Big Ten, if not the country.
Kirk Ferentz updated the statuses of both of his stars.
"On the injury front, obviously Drew Ott and LeShun Daniels both left the ballgame the other day," he said. "Both guys are rehabbing right now. They didn't practice today but they making good progress, and it would be premature to make any predictions how it's going to go. But they are making progress and we'll see how the week plays out on that one."
Simply put, a lot is still unknown. A lot will depend on how much recovery and progress Daniels and Ott can make between now and kickoff on Saturday night. The positive, if there is any, is that they are still not ruled out for the showdown with Pittsburgh and they have extra time with the matchup being a night game inside Kinnick Stadium.
The future outlook on them is still promising. Neither is expected to miss a considerable amount of time even if they are unable to go this week.
"We'll have a chance to know more Thursday or Friday," Ferentz noted. "I think it's realistic. If they can't make it Saturday, hopefully the week after."