By Pete Ruden
Last weekend should have been a celebration for Iowa after it beat Iowa State in overtime, 44-41, but it ended up being bittersweet.
The Hawkeyes suffered a substantial blow to their offensive line on Sept. 9, when offensive tackle Ike Boettger suffered an Achilles injury.
Boettger was left off of Tuesday’s depth chart. Sean Welsh shifted to the right-tackle slot, and Keegan Render moved to right guard, allowing Ross Reynolds to step up at left guard.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz said it would be about four to six months until Boettger would have a chance at being back, effectively ending his season. Unfortunately for Iowa, he has already used his redshirt season, meaning he will likely not receive a medical redshirt.
Boettger, who switched from tight end to offensive line in 2013, started 21 games and was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten last year, meaning his injury hurts the unit as a whole.
However, it allows others to gain experience, which is one positive, as Ferentz said about a different injury last week.
Still, the injury hurts, especially for Boone Myers, who has come up through the program with Boettger.
“It’s the last thing you want for a guy going into his senior season,” Myers said. “It’s just hard, and you don’t ask it upon anybody. You don’t ask it upon your enemies. It’s just something that rips your heart out.”
Time to bounce back
Even though the Hawkeyes picked up a victory in their last game, the Iowa defense isn’t satisfied with its performance.
The team uncharacteristically missed tackles throughout the game, allowing Iowa State running back David Montgomery to pick up 112 yards and a touchdown on the ground as well as 53 yards in the passing game.
Linebacker Josey Jewell, who won numerous awards after a stellar game against Wyoming, said he was disappointed with his performance, though he finished with 7 tackles and also broke up a pass.
When asked about what the defense can improve for this week, Jewell didn’t hesitate in his answer.
“Tackling,” he said. “Run inside on the ball. There are a bunch of things, but tackling is going to be the main focus.”
Goodbye, Black Friday
Iowa has a new season finale for the 2020 and 2021 seasons; the Big Ten announced that the Hawkeyes will take on Wisconsin to close out the season instead of Nebraska in the years to come.
The Huskers will still be on the docket for the Hawkeyes, but they won’t conclude the season.
The change also eliminates the game taking place on Black Friday; the games are now set to take place on Saturday, just like the rest of Iowa’s schedule.
Ferentz, known not to make a big deal out of scheduling, actually liked playing on Black Friday because it gave players a chance to be with their families for Thanksgiving.
However, he is focused on taking the schedule one game at a time, and that starts on Saturday.
“At the end of the day, we’re playing 12 games. Nine of them will be Big Ten games, and they’ll all be tough,” Ferentz said. “We’ll play them as they come. I’m not too worried about that. What I am worried about is how we play at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.”