Against Wisconsin Iowa was without two regular starters on offense, WR Tevaun Smith, and OT Boone Myers, and while their absences weren't the only reason that the Hawkeyes struggled to move the ball and score points yesterday, they certainly didn't help matters.
Smith apparetly suffered a knee injury during practice last week and is expected to miss a few weeks of action as a result. He didn't travel to Madison yesterday and will miss the next few games, per Ferentz:
"He's got a knee issue. I doubt he'll be back before the bye (Oct. 24)," head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "We're optimistic he'll be ready to go when we get back after our bye week."
Iowa a bye week the week of October 24. If Smith isn't able to return before then, he would miss Iowa's games against Illinois (October 10) and Northwestern (October 17). He would return to play against Maryland on Halloween (October 31). He would also be available for Iowa's stretch run of games in November against Indiana (November 7), Minnesota (November 14), Purdue (November 21), and Nebraska (November 27). Not having him available for the Northwestern game could be a big blow -- the Wildcats might be the toughest team remaining on Iowa's schedule and they have an extremely stout defense, so not having one of Iowa's best offensive weapons available would be unfortunate -- but hopefully he's able to return for the final five games of the regular season (and any postseason action Iowa sees).
In his absence, Jerminic Smith (no relation) will get the start next week against Illinois. Smith and Beathard failed connect for a pass against Wisconsin yesterday, but Beathard did target him on several occasions and Smith did show some ability to get separation from defenders. If he and Beathard are able to get on the same page, it could certainly be a boon for Iowa's downfield passing game.
Myers, Iowa's starting left tackle through the first four games of the season, suffered a stinger against North Texas last week and wasn't able to play against Wisconsin. It sounds like he may return to action before Smith, though.
Here was the Kirk quote on Boone Myers' timetable: "More day-to-day, week-to-week. Hopefully day-to-day. We’ll see."— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) October 3, 2015
Without Myers out, junior Cole Croston got the start at left tackle. He had his ups and downs -- and a lot of the latter against Wisconsin outside linebacker Joe Schobert, who was an unstoppable terrormonster in the game. Croston definitely struggled when matched up with Schobert, but frankly Iowa probably doesn't have a lineman on the roster who wouldn't struggle with Schobert right now and Iowa really should have done a better job of getting Croston some assistance against Schobert in the second half. Croston did make one of the biggest plays of the game when he pounced on a critical fumble late in the game. That allowed Iowa to keep possession, bleed more clock (and Badger timeouts), and punt the ball away before Wisconsin's final, doomed drive. If Myers continues to sit with the stinger injury, Croston will continue to start in his absence.
Finally, RB Derrick Mitchell also didn't make the trip to Madison yesterday -- he's dealing with an undisclosed injury and no timetable has been announced for his return. He was Iowa's third-string running back prior to the injury; in his absence, Akrum Wadley figures to fill that role. It doesn't really matter that much, though -- at Iowa a third-string running back isn't going to see much time unless there's an injury to the guys ahead of him or if it's a big blowout. While Daniels continues to (slowly) work his way back from an ankle injury, Iowa seems content to ride Jordan Canzeri as hard as possible for now.
On the bright side, Iowa didn't seem to add any new injuries to their medical report after yesterday's game.