IOWA CITY, Iowa – The bye week arrived at an opportune time for a lot of players on Iowa’s roster. Perhaps none of them benefitted more from the break than did starting quarterback C.J. Beathard.
The junior from Tennessee hobbled off the field at Northwestern on Oct. 17 with multiple lower body injuries. He practiced very little leading up to the contest, which the 10th-ranked Hawkeyes (7-0 overall, 3-0 Big Ten) dominated, 40-10.
Beathard said Tuesday here at the team’s performance center that he’s returned to practice after spending much of last week receiving treatment and resting his wounds. It proved to be a beneficial break for other guys on the roster who were nursing injuries as well.
"I think I’m a lot healthier," Beathard said. "I was hurting after the Northwestern game. Luckily we were up enough to where I didn’t have too finish the game. That bye week was nice to get some rehab and treatment. It was nice to get off your feet and kind of rest it. By Saturday, I should be pretty good."
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz ruled out running back Jordan Canzeri (ankle) and offensive tackle Ike Boettger (ankle) for Saturday’s game against Maryland (2:30 p.m. CT, ABC). He added that LeShun Daniels, who missed two games with an ankle injury, and Jake Duzey, who has been slowed by off-season knee surgery, have progressed to the point where they should contribute against the Terrapins.
"(Sprains) are unpredictable. (Canzeri is) making good progress. It was a lot better two days after (the Northwestern game) than we maybe anticipated," Ferentz said. "So, that’s good news. I think he’s feeling better by the day but to say when he’ll be ready to play I’m not sure yet."
Lineman Boone Myers returned to the depth chart this week after missing the last three games with an injury. Ferentz said that he was on course to return to his starting spot at left tackle with Cole Croston flipping over to right tackle.
Wide Receiver Tevaun Smith played on a limited basis at Northwestern coming off a knee injury that kept him out two games. The senior from Toronto said he helped shake off the rust from his time away.
"I feel like it did that and I also feel like it gave me confidence because I didn’t practice the whole (Northwestern) week," Smith said. "That was the first time I had run full speed (since the injury). I didn’t really feel anything in my knee, so I was like, hey, I’m OK.
"Going into the bye week and practice it make me feel better and I feel better than ever. It gets better day by day. It’s not 100 percent yet but it’s continuing to get better. Hopefully it continues to get better throughout the rest of the season."
Beathard indicated that his groin injury might be better but it’s his hip that he hurt against Pittsburgh in Week 3 that’s still causing him discomfort.
"It’s something with my leg up in my hip area," he said
Beathard finished 15 of 25 for 176 yards with no touchdowns and an interception at Northwestern. Statistics failed to tell the story of him keeping alive plays and performing admirably while being limited by injuries.
"I felt a little bit slower. It was harder to do some things that I’m comfortable doing. It’s kind of frustrating," he said. "But we did a good job and when I need to make plays I’m still going to make plays. It’s just sometimes I’m slower than normal."
In addition to confining his ability to make plays with his legs, the injury has affected his comfort throwing the ball.
"Sometimes it’s running and sometimes it’s dropping back. Different things hit (the injury) differently," he said.
Despite missing practice time the last few weeks, Beathard has continued heading his side of the ball.
"I still lead this offense whether I’m out there or not. They see that. I’m vocal out there," he said.
OFFENSIVE LINE SHUFFLE: In a season of moving parts on the offensive line, it looks like Iowa will roll out a new starting lineup against Maryland.
With Myers returning to left tackle, where he started the team’s first four games, Croston, who started the last four games there, will flip over to right tackle. Boettger started the first six games at right tackle before being sidelined and replaced at Northwestern by Sean Welsh, who started the first six games at left guard. True freshman James Daniels started at left guard in Evanston.
"Cole has got really good position flexibility and Boone and Ike really did last year, too," Ferentz said. "But during camp we settled in with (Myers at left tackle and Boettger at right) so we’ll probably switch Cole back to the right side and shift Sean back into the left guard position and still rotate the guards internally.
"We’re hoping we can get Boone to the game and then get him through the game but at least we’ve had a positive start to the week."
Ferentz said Welsh will go back to left guard against Maryland and Daniels will rotate in there as he did during the first six games. Daniels also played right tackle when Boettger was injured against Illinois on Oct. 10.
Austin Blythe and Jordan Walsh have started all of the teams games at center and right guard, respectively, and were expected to open the Maryland game at those spots.
RUNNING BACK ROTATION: When Canzeri went down at Northwestern, Akrum Wadley and Derrick Mitchell Jr. jumped in for a combined 36 carries for 283 yards and five touchdowns. The former accounted for 204 and four scores.
With LeShun Daniels, who started the first two games of the season before injuring his ankle, on course to return Saturday, it looks like a crowded backfield.
"We haven’t really talked much about it," say Ferentz when asked how Daniels will be worked back into the mix. "He’s looking better, so that’s been refreshing. Hopefully he’ll look good again tomorrow and walk away healthy and then we’ll play all the guys. Just based on recent history, we’ll probably need everybody. I don’t know what the rotation will be but so far it hasn’t gone according to plan."
QUICK-HITTERS: Iowa sports information indicated that about 8,600 tickets remain for the Maryland game…If the game isn’t on ABC in your area of the country, you can find it on ESPN2…The Hawkeyes are the only team in the country to allow only one rushing touchdown…Iowa’s No. 10 ranking in the AP poll is the highest it’s been since coming it at No. 9 on Sept. 12 of 2010…The Terrapins last win against a Top 10 team came on Nov. 10, 2007 when they knocked off quarterback Matt Ryan and No. 7 Boston College.