IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa’s win on Saturday may have come with a cost. The Hawkeyes might be without their top defensive player for a while.
Drew Ott, an all-Big Ten defensive end, left the game in the second half after laying on the field and needing assistance to get off of it. Trainers wrapped his right knee in ice. The injury was the latest hit to a Hawkeye team with mounting health concerns.
Starting Right Tackle Ike Boettger (leg) left Saturday’s game and did not return. No. 1 right guard Jordan Walsh missed time in the first half but ended up re-entering after the intermission.
Boone Myers, who started the first four games of the season at left tackle, missed his second game in a row. Running Back LeShun Daniels also did not dress in the 29-20 win against Illinois.
Receiver Tevaun Smith already had been ruled out for Saturday after missing last week’s contest at Wisconsin with a knee injury. He wasn’t expected to be back until the Oct. 31 matchup with Maryland, at the earliest.
"Drew (Ott) was on crutches. You guys all saw that. He has a knee injury. I don’t know the extent of it yet," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. "And Ike (Boettger) has got a lower body or lower leg. We’ll know more (Sunday), but I’m not sure yet at this point."
Daniels injured his ankle in Week 2 at Iowa State. He played a limited amount in the following three games but the coaches decided to hold him out on Saturday.
"We’re just kind of treading water and that’s not good enough," Ferentz said. "So, we’re starting to take a little different approach right now, and we’ll see what this week brings, but we just made the decision this week to try to let’s see if we can’t start climbing the ladder a little bit more."
Myers exited the North Texas game in Sept. 26 with his left arm dangling. He didn’t make the trip to Wisconsin last week and was in street clothes again on Saturday.
"I hope so. We’ll see, though. I don’t know that yet. He’s climbing the ladder, so it would be really good if we could get him back," Ferentz said about availability for next week’s game at Northwestern. "Hopefully we’ll have Ike back, but I don’t know that yet, either. If not we’ll figure something out and we’ll be ready to go."
Walsh’s ability to play through his injury surprised Ferentz.
"I wasn’t optimistic we’d see Jordan out there, but it was great to see him out there, I can guarantee you," the coach said.
THAT’S SPECIAL: During his opening statement in Saturday’s post-game press conference, Ferentz praised the play of his kicker, Marshall Koehn, and punter, Dillon Kidd.
"Both Dillon and Marshall Koehn really came up big. Every play that they’re involved with basically in that second half was critical, and they just did a great job," the coach said.
Koehn connected on field goals of 34 and 40 yards in the final 3:20 of the game. They came after a 19-yarder before halftime.
Kidd punted five times for a 46.6-yard average. He recorded a long of 55 and dropped three attempts inside the Illinois 20.
JEWELL SHINES: Iowa Middle Linebacker Josey Jewell led the Hawkeyes with 12 tackles (five solo), assisted on a tackle for loss, recovered a fumble and broke up a pass.
"Josey Jewell stays active out there and plays really well. I thought our entire defense for the most part played tough, and then the takeaways were a big part of the game, as well," Ferentz said.
Ott, Jaleel Johnson and Nathan Bazata each recorded a sack for the Hawkeyes. Johnson, Nate Meier and Ben Niemann were credited with quarterback hurries for the winners.
Jewell’s fumble recovery was a key play as Illinois possessed the ball down 26-20 with 3:20 to play in the game. Defensive End Parker Hesse was credited with forcing the ball out of running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s hands.
"Everybody was reaching for it (in the pile). There was a guy reaching in my sock. You just have to be physical," Jewell said.
BY GEORGE…: For the third game in a row, Iowa Tight End George Kittle caught a touchdown pass after not finding the end zone in his first two seasons. This week’s tally came on a 21-yard grab from C.J. Beathard to open the scoring.
"It was something we saw on film," Kittle said. "Their safety and corner kind of bite down on runs. So it’s just kind of fake block the corner, the safety fills and I’m just wide open in the end zone."
Kittle, a junior from Norman (OK) High, was untouched on the play.
"I saw the safety come down and I just knew right there. C.J. gave me a perfect ball and it was nice being in the end zone," he said.
TAKEAWAYS: The Hawkeyes held a 2-0 advantage in the turnover category on Saturday. In addition to Jewell’s fumble recovery off the Hesse force, Greg Mabin picked off a pass, his first of the year and the team’s Big Ten leading eighth.
"We practiced that exact same play in practice before so I was pretty much ready. As soon as I saw the guy go in motion, I knew they were going to try to take a shot on me," Mabin said. "I just played my keys, played my technique and I was able to make a play on the ball."
EXTRA POINTS: The Hawkeyes are 6-0 for the first time since 2009, the second time under Kirk Ferentz, and the seventh time in school history…Iowa is bowl eligible for the 14th time in the last 15 seasons under head coach Kirk Ferentz…Iowa allowed its first rushing touchdown of the season on Saturday. It was the last FBS school to allow one…Beathard moved to 7-0 as a starting quarterback. The last Iowa quarterback to win his first seven career starts was Matt Sherman, who won seven from 1994-95…WR Jerminic Smith, who entered the game with no career catches, caught four passes for 118 yards, becoming the first true freshman in the Kirk Ferentz era to record 100 yards receiving in a single game…Smith’s 118 receiving yards are the most by a Hawkeye since TE Jake Duzey in 2013 (138 vs. Ohio State). It is the highest receiving yards total by a wide receiver since Derrell Johnson-Koulianos had 119 receiving yards against Northwestern in 2007…Koehn is now 8 of 9 on field goals this year, including hitting all four attempts from 40 yards or longer…True freshman James Daniels played more reps Saturday than he had in any game to date with injuries hitting the offensive line. He played left guard and then replaced Boettger at right tackle.