The injury bug has caught up with the Iowa Hawkeyes in dramatic fashion this year, having several starters on the offensive side of the ball missing multiple games and starting defensive end Drew Ott being sidelined for the season with a torn ACL. The bye week should remedy some of those concerns, but they were also already beginning to get healthier before it.
Wideout Tevaun Smith returned to action last week against Northwestern while running back LeShun Daniels came close to seeing the field against the Wildcats in Evanston as well.
Now, with an additional two weeks off, Daniels is expected to handle some of the duties in the backfield when Iowa returns to action on Halloween against Maryland.
"He will be (working 100 percent) after this week," Hawkeye offensive coordinator Greg Davis said on Wednesday. "Hopefully this week will give us a chance to get LeShun (Daniels) back and get him rolling, and then the young guys that I think Kirk mentioned, we were going to give them a bunch of scrimmage work this week, but they got a bunch of hits last week. But they're doing a nice job."
Daniels opened the season as the unquestioned starter in the backfield for the Hawkeyes but got banged up in Week 2 against Iowa State in Ames. It was a high-sprained that limited him extremely for a few weeks following the victory over the Cyclones. Iowa chose to change the approach and has sat him out the last three weeks.
In his absence, Jordan Canzeri emerged with a 200 yard performance, and a four touchdown performance as well. After Canzeri suffered a similar injury as Daniels, Akrum Wadley filled in prominently with a 204 yard performance of his own. Derrick Mitchell also provided a strong supplement with 79 yards on 10 carries.
"I said in August, I thought we had four backs, and I also said in August that we would need all four of them before it was all said and done," Greg Davis explained. "I didn't realize it would be by the seventh game."
Davis has seen a lot of football to know what to expect. It's a good thing they have more depth at running back and it has paid off for them this year. Iowa has run the ball extremely well in each game and that has been an emormous key to their success.
Now, with four different running backs at their disposal, and four who have already showcased success on the season, the rotation they wish to use could get murky. However, only three are expected to be healthy enough to be on the field in the Maryland game as Jordan Canzeri continues to recover from the injury he suffered early on against Northwestern.
"Yeah, you'll play that out as it happens, but typically you like to go into a ballgame with two guys that you plan on using, and then some kind of 3rd down back situation where -- which early in camp we thought that would be Derrick Mitchell, and he's been kind of dinged up," Davis shared. "He hasn't really been able to get into that role, although he played in there a lot for us the other night."
"I really won't have a good answer until next week (on Daniels working in with Wadley and Mitchell for the Maryland game)," Davis added. "We see that he is 100 percent and he is able to go, and then we'll kind of pay it by ear after that."