Unless "personal issues" is Kirk Ferentz's chosen euphemism for "one of my star running backs is being anally probed by creatures from the other side of the galaxy right now, but I'll be damned if I'm going to tell that to you jackals." You never know. In any event, Iowa held their annual Kids' Day open practice yesterday (more on that later) and Wegher's ongoing absence from practice was the hottest topic of discussion:
"We’re hopeful he chooses to come back to the team at some given point," Ferentz said after Iowa’s open scrimmage at Kinnick Stadium. "There’s no timeline or anything like that. I think it’s just important he gets things settled in his mind and feels good about it.
"Personally, I can’t imagine him not coming back, but you just never know, you never know."
"I guess all I can say is we all have periods in our lives where we reflect a little bit and think about things," Ferentz said. "I think that’s pretty much where he’s at right now, sorting through some things. We’re certainly hopeful that he chooses to come back. It’s going to be his decision, either way."
Per Marvin McNutt:
Wide receiver Marvin McNutt said Wegher is a "close friend" of his, but he doesn’t know exactly why Wegher left camp. Right now, the official reason is "personal" and "working things out."
"We all wish him the best," McNutt said. "Sometimes, we really don’t know what’s going on and we really don’t. He’s just in our prayers right now."
Per Ricky Stanzi, who ain't got time to pray:
"He’s a friend of a lot of people on this team, obviously," Stanzi said. "Everyone else who isn’t quite as close to him because he’s a young guy, respects him. There’s no animosity on this team toward anybody."
"When we line up for practice everyday, he’s not out there," Stanzi said. "We can’t stop practice and hold a prayer session. We’ve got to keep moving."
So. What do we know? We know Brandon Wegher's not at practice and hasn't been at practice all week. We know the reasons for his absence are personal and not a matter of grades or injury or running afoul of Ferentz's infamous doghouse. We know he's welcome to return. We know that KF seems cautiously optimistic that he will return.
We just don't know when that return might happen. We also don't know what this absence has done to his potential playing time when/if he does return to the team. Nothing he's done warrants a formal reduction in playing time and Ferentz certainly doesn't seem like the sort of coach to directly punish a player in these circumstances by withholding playing time. Still: missed practice time is missed practice time and, like most coaches, Ferentz places great stock in practice performance... and if Wegher isn't there to practice, he can't perform. His absence -- and continued impressive performances (and good health) from A-Rob and Jewel -- probably puts him at no better than third on the running back depth chart right now. Then again, if the choice of third options at running back is between Wegher and DAS PAKIBOMB -- well, it's not really a choice at all.