It hasn't exactly been all wine and chocolates in Iowa City in the wake of last week's loss to Minnesota, but if the news from tonight's call-in show is correct, the news might be turning to the positive. On tonight's Hawk Talk, Kirk Ferentz told the assembled torches and pitchforks that two key position players, wideout Keenan Davis and halfback Mika'il McCall, will almost certainly be available for this weekend's game against Michigan. According to Mas Casa:
On his radio show Wednesday night, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said freshman running back Mika'il McCall will play in Saturday's game against Michigan.
Also, Ferentz said junior wide receiver Keenan Davis, who missed last week's game after suffering a mild ankle sprain against Indiana, will play unless "something happens in the next 48 hours."
McCall returned to practice during Northwestern week on Oct. 15 and went through warmups. He did again the last two weeks, but hasn't seen game action.
This week in practice, McCall has take all the No. 2 snaps.
To say that Iowa has yet to find options for replacing either player is a gross understatement. McCall was second-string halfback for the first week of the season, racking up a quick 61 yards rushing on Tennessee Tech before breaking his ankle and presumably being lost for the season. Since his injury, Iowa has auditioned a number of backup halfbacks to periodically spell Marcus Coker, eventually deciding that Marcus Coker should just back himself up. McCall's quick return should take some of the workload off Coker, especially early in games.
As for Davis, his injury directly led to one of the criticisms of Iowa's fourth quarter against Minnesota: receiving targets in the final series. Without Davis in the lineup, slot receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley was forced to move outside, leaving unqualified and inexperienced receivers like Jordan Cotton and cloven hooved tight ends like Brad Herman to catch important passes in the two-minute drill. As we know, the results were comically awful. Davis' presumed return to the field Saturday makes it difficult for Michigan to simply double up on McNutt and leave Vandenberg to throw to a revolving set of street mimes, a situation Minnesota was able to exploit to great effect last Saturday.
There's no doubt Iowa will need to score tons of points if they stand a chance of winning Saturday. Without McCall and Davis, the odds of the Hawkeyes doing that looked awfully bleak. Their return doesn't guarantee victory, by any means, but at least it means Ferentz will be playing with a full allotment of skill position players. It gives Ferentz every opportunity in the world to capitalize. Whether Kirk does that, of course, is entirely up to him.