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Notebook: Spearman to sit two games

BY CODY GOODWIN | OCTOBER 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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Quinton Alston didn’t talk much about fellow starting linebacker Reggie Spearman on Tuesday. He glossed over the subject with broad phrases and packaged lines. It was a nearly perfect example of the “keep-moving-forward” mentality that’s instilled in the Iowa football players.

Sophomore Spearman was arrested at one minute after midnight on Oct. 25 on OWI charges. He was initially pulled over on his moped for an expired registration and lack of a safety flag, according to the police report. The 18-year-old exhibited “measurable impairment” during field sobriety tests, according to the police, and he was wearing a couple of bar wrist bands and failed a preliminary breath test with a blood-alcohol count of .087.

As a result, head coach Kirk Ferentz said on Tuesday that Spearman will serve a two-game suspension. He’ll miss Iowa’s games against Northwestern on Saturday and Minnesota on Nov. 8, “and then he’ll be back in good standing,” Ferentz said.

Despite the distractions during Iowa’s final bye week of the 2014 season, Alston said Spearman is still part of the “family.” He said he talked with Spearman after the incident to help lift his spirits and remind him he’s a crucial part of this team.

“You have to remind him, we’re not going to kick you to the curb. It’s not like gloom and doom,” Alston said. “It’s not all over. We’re still family; we’re still brothers at the end of the day.

“I just told him that I’m right there with him, that he’s not by himself. He knows that, even though you’re away from home, you’re not really away from home. We’re just going to continue to grow.”

Spearman started each of Iowa’s seven games this season at weak-side linebacker. The Chicago native recorded 34 tackles in those contests.

In his place for this weekend’s game against the Wildcats will be redshirt freshman Josey Jewell, who’s accumulated 7 tackles in five games this season.

“It was pretty much a dead heat between Josey and Reggie in camp, and then obviously the injury kind of pushed Reggie forward on that one,” Ferentz said, referencing Jewell’s hand injury that kept him out of the first two games this season.

 “We’re here to see him play,” Fereentz said. “He’s played well when he’s been out there and doing a good job on special teams.”

Run defense preaches technique

Before Iowa gave up 528 combined rushing yards to Indiana and Maryland, it had arguably one of the best run defenses in the country.

After back-to-back abysmal performances, which saw the Hawkeyes’ run defense drop from the top-10 to a tie for 41st nationally, the season’s final bye week allowed the unit to reflect on its poor outings.

“Up front, we have to clean up our details, keep contain, and have better leverage on the ball,” defensive end Drew Ott said. “[Maryland] was making us play their blocks, and that got us out of position. They had a good scheme, and we just weren’t ready for it.”

On Saturday, Iowa’s rush defense will be tasked with slowing down Justin Jackson, Northwestern’s speedy tailback who has become a weapon on offense.

The last three weeks have been Jackson’s best. The true freshman has reached the century mark in each of his last three games and has averaged a collective 5.1 yards per carry. (Northwestern went 1-2 in those games.)

“The team, as a whole, is fundamentally sound. Very smart team,” Alston said. “Justin Jackson, he’s a really good running back. He’s powerful, and always keeps his feet running. Like every week, it’s going to take 11 hats to the ball.”

Daniels Jr., out for six weeks

Iowa’s depth at running back took a hit when Ferentz announced on Tuesday that LeShun Daniels Jr. will miss “probably six weeks” because an ankle/foot injury.

Ferentz also said he doesn’t think Daniels Jr., will qualify for a medical redshirt but said the team will appeal if denied.

“He’s had two injuries this year. But I think he’s played in four games, and we’re past the 50 percent,” Ferentz said. “… Whoever is healthy has a chance to play [at running back], basically, is what it comes down to.”

Follow @codygoodwin on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis about the Iowa football team.


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