If you were hoping to see sophomore running back Mark Weisman in the lineup for this weekend’s road tilt against Indiana, then let the disappointment commence.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz announced on his weekly teleconference Tuesday that the team will likely not have the services of the popular bowling ball running back when the Hawkeyes travel to Bloomington, Ind., for Saturday’s 2:42 p.m. kickoff at Memorial Stadium.
“We do not expect Mark to play,” Ferentz said. “The good news is we finally got Damon (Bullock) back out there. He played well and competed hard. Hopefully we can have both of those guys out there together one of these days. We’ll need Damon to play well again this week.”
Bullock had more than 100 yards in his first game back Saturday against Nortwestern. He had missed four games with injuries that stemmed from a concussion earlier this season. His backup will be true freshman Greg Garmon.
Garmon is one of 13 freshmen that ended up on the two-deep depth chart this week. Tevaun Smith will be a backup at wide receiver as will Drew Ott at defensive end. Ott played for the first time last week, which effectively eliminated him from redshirting this season.
Sean Draper is another freshman that will be a backup for Saturday’s game. Redshirt freshman Jordan Walsh may start at left guard for a second straight week, but if he does not start then he will likely backup junior Nolan MacMillan.
The only other change to the depth chart has Greg Castillo starting at cornerback over B.J. Lowery. Lowery did have a first-half interception against Northwestern’s Kain Colter last week.
Iowa comes into Saturday’s contest 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten, while Indiana is 3-5 overall and 1-3 in league play. The Hoosiers picked up their first conference win last weekend on the road against Illinois.
“Indiana is coming off a real good road win,” Ferentz said. “They’ve had a lot of improvement, are playing well and playing with confidence.”
The Hoosiers rank third in the Big Ten Conference in points per game at 34.3 but rank 11th in points allowed per game at 30. Only Illinois’ defense is allowing more points.
“They’ve got some new players. That’s one of the areas that statistics may not tell the story,” Ferentz said. “They have two veteran guys up front. They’ve improved at linebacker. Their secondary is very talented and very active.”
Iowa struggled to score last week against a banged-up Northwestern defense, so nothing is guaranteed for a Hawkeye offense that has lacked firepower in the passing game. The Hawkeyes will have to score points to win Saturday, unless the Iowa defense improves drastically from a poor effort last week against the Wildcats.
Northwestern had two players rush for more than 160 yards in the win.
“We have to play as well as we possibly can. It’s the third week in a row where we play a fast operating offense,” Ferentz said. “We have had practice at it. We have to get off the field on defense and do a better job. That’s our focus this week. That will be a challenge though. Indiana has not only moved the ball, but they have scored points, too.”
Indiana enters the game as a 1-point favorite. Iowa needs this win to have a chance at another bowl game. The Hawkeyes need two more wins to qualify and the final two games on schedule is a trip to Ann Arbor and a home game against Nebraska.