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Koeppel to miss Saturday's game after crash

BY SCOTT MILLER | SEPTEMBER 01, 2010 7:20 AM

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Senior center Josh Koeppel won't play this weekend in Iowa's season-opener against Eastern Illinois, head coach Kirk Ferentz said at his press conference Tuesday.

Koeppel — who was struck by a truck while riding his Yamaha moped on Monday, according to police — was competing for the starting center position with sophomore James Ferentz.

Sustaining injuries that Ferentz described as "a lot of scrapes," Koeppel looked like he "just walked out of our wrestling room," the 12-year head coach said. The senior was taken to UI Hospitals and Clinics, where doctors performed various X-rays and CT scans, Ferentz said. They found no serious injuries.

"I think it was an unfortunate accident, obviously, but he was very fortunate to walk away from it," Ferentz said.

Fellow offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde said, "I was shocked. … I called the hospital. I figured he was still in the hospital room. But typical Koeppel, he was out of the hospital, 'Oh, I got hit by a truck — a few scratches. I'm fine.' … The guy is tougher than heck."

Koeppel's crash broached the subject of players' safety on transportation devices such as motorcycles and mopeds. Senior quarterback Ricky Stanzi estimated the majority of players ride mopeds.

Ferentz's main concern is that most of his players don't wear helmets while riding similar mopeds to Koeppel's.

"I've been worried for 11 years," Ferentz said. "They're just not protected, whether it's a motorcycle or moped. … You worry about it, but you understand it, too, because anyone who has ever worked on a college campus knows it's a nightmare to park."

Despite Koeppel's accident, Stanzi and Vandervelde both said they'll continue to ride their mopeds around campus. The cost — about $2 per week in gas, Vandervelde said — and convenience plays a major role in that.

"I don't think we need to be more aware or anything," Stanzi said. "I mean, if a truck runs into you; a truck runs into you. There's not a whole lot you can do about things like that."

In other injury news, Ferentz confirmed senior linebacker Jeff Tarpinian suffered a fracture in his hand two weeks ago, but Tarpinian returned to the practice field this weekend. He's limited by a splint and padding covering the hand.

Likewise, junior cornerback Shaun Prater is still hobbled by a hamstring injury. Sophomore Greg Castillo is currently listed as the starter in place of Prater. Ferentz said, "[Prater] is working his way back. I don't know if he'll make it by showtime or not. We'll see. Those things are tricky and hard to predict."

Kicking battle

Trent Mossbrucker and Daniel Murray continue to compete for the starting kicking job, Ferentz said. Freshman walk-on Mike Meyer, who will handle kickoffs for the Hawkeyes, is also in the running for the starting spot.

"I doubt that," Ferentz said when asked if he may go into the Eastern Illinois' game without a kicker. "I'd like to at least on Friday let the guys know what the batting order is going to be."

Wegher's status unchanged

Ferentz hasn't spoken with Brandon Wegher in "over a week," as the sophomore running back remains away from the team. Wegher, who participated in the first two days of fall practice, is still on scholarship.

Stressing that the team has moved forward without him, Ferentz hasn't given Wegher a timetable for his potential return.

"I'm not sitting by the phone waiting for a decision," Ferentz said. "Right now, it's all in his hands. The only critical factor here is just don't do something that's going to deter your future."


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