Chaney out for the season


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Just when Kirk Ferentz thought his team was fully healthy, the head coach announced on Tuesday that wide receiver Paul Chaney Jr. is out for the season with a torn ACL.

The junior suffered the injury on a punt return in the second quarter of Iowa’s 30-28 win over Michigan, and he did not return to the contest.

After the game, Ferentz seemed optimistic that Chaney’s injury was nothing more than a tweak. But on Tuesday, the 11-year headman said Chaney’s knee swelled up after the contest, and a Monday night MRI revealed a tear.

“He was working hard, having a good year, doing a lot of good things for us,” Ferentz said. “It’s a tough loss.”

Chaney has caught a pass in every Hawkeye game this year except one, posting seven receptions for 50 yards. The highlight of his receiving career came in 2007, when he scored a game-tying, 23-yard touchdown in overtime against Michigan State. Iowa went on to win the contest, 34-27, in the second overtime.

Chaney’s main contribution to Ferentz’s squad over his career had been through kick and punt returns. Also a track star at Iowa, his straight-line speed made him an explosive option in the return game.

This season, Chainey averaged 20.1 yards per kick return and 5.1 yards per punt return.

“He’ll be back, but that doesn’t help him or us this year,” Ferentz said.

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With Chaney’s injury, the team’s receiving corps is slimmed to five — Trey Stross, Marvin McNutt, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, Colin Sandeman, and Keenan Davis.

Sandeman and Davis, in particular, will see an increased workload in Chaney’s absence.

Davis, a hyped true freshman out of Cedar Rapids, has four receptions for 55 yards this year, including a touchdown against Iowa State.

Also, Sandeman will return punts in place of Chaney — something he’s shown an aptitude for since his days at Bettendorf High.

On Tuesday, Ferentz recalled a state playoff game between Bettendorf and Iowa City High in which Sandeman “was doing everything.”

“They used him a lot of different ways,” Ferentz said. “And he’s been very comfortable for us back there, too, when he’s been healthy and going.”

In the fourth quarter against Michigan with Iowa holding on to a 23-21 lead, Sandeman’s 20-yard punt return set up a 42-yard touchdown pass to Tony Moeaki.

“That was a huge play in our game,” Ferentz said of the return. “That was right before the touchdown pass, so it was a big, big play for us.

“He really did a great job, and it looked like he had been doing it for the whole season.”

Guard rotation

Freshman Riley Reiff got the start at left guard against Michigan, moving senior Dace Richardson to right guard and Julian Vandervelde out of the starting lineup.

The three continued to rotate throughout the game — something Ferentz could see continuing.

“We’ll just keep playing with it and see what happens,” the head coach said.

Hampton progressing

Chaney’s injury was the latest in a long list of banged up Hawkeyes, including Jewel Hampton’s torn ACL right before the season.

On Tuesday, Ferentz said the sophomore running back’s rehab is going as planned.

“He’s got a great attitude toward it,” Ferentz said. “The repair was good. It’s just a matter of hard work right now and him being patient. I know he’s doing that, and he’s going to be a very good football player for us.”

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