Iowa Notebook: Weisman questionable with sprained ankle


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Iowa was already going to have a tough time putting up points against Penn State, the Big Ten’s second-best scoring defense, on Saturday.

But now the Hawkeyes might have to play without the guy who has scored 8 of the team’s 12 touchdowns.
Running back Mark Weisman sprained his ankle on a last-minute, game-tying touchdown run against Michigan State on Oct. 13. Hawkeye head coach Kirk Ferentz said on Tuesday that Weisman has  “a lot of progress to make to be able to play” and that Iowa would prepare as if the sophomore back won’t be available.

“Realistically, you’re talking about a guy trying to be a running back … I’d say if he was our left guard, maybe it would be different,” Ferentz said. “But it’s tough for a guy to just gut it up and play running back. It’s really hard.”

Weisman was not made available at the team’s weekly media gathering on Tuesday. He said after the game on Oct. 13 that he would “definitely” play against Penn State.

But he spent the weekend in a walking boot. And even though an MRI on Monday showed what Ferentz called “nothing overly concerning,” Weisman will only put in light work during the week of practice.

True freshman Greg Garmon would get the start in Weisman’s place, with sophomore Jordan Canzeri backing him up. Canzeri is ready to return from an ACL tear in spring practice, and Ferentz said the team would have to count on him to carry the ball.

Sophomore back Damon Bullock has missed three-straight games with recurring symptoms from a concussion he suffered on Sept. 15.

Quarterback James Vandenberg said the Hawkeyes could run the ball no matter who was taking the handoffs.

“The line’s done a great job no matter who’s been at tailback this year,” he said. “So we feel pretty confident we have plenty of guys who can fill that role.”

Quick snap call pays off

Vandenberg didn’t receive credit for a touchdown on Weisman’s overtime-forcing run. But he made a call in the huddle that led directly to it.

The fifth-year senior told the offensive line in the huddle that Iowa would try to snap the ball as soon as they were set, before Michigan State’s defense was ready.

It worked.

 “I talked to the linemen, and they were all good with it,” Vandenberg said. “We caught them off-guard. I know both [Michigan State’s] defensive tackles weren’t even quite down in their stance yet.”

Vandenberg has received plenty of criticism this season as Iowa’s passing game has floundered. But center James Ferentz said that play is an example of what his quarterback does for the offense that is less noticeable than a poorly thrown pass.

“That was Vandenberg’s call, and it was a great choice by him,” the center said. “I don’t think people give him enough credit for the intelligence he brings to the game. His Xs and Os knowledge is incredible. And the number of checks he has to make and the reads he does are very difficult to do.”

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