Injured Hawkeyes headline Week 8 of college football

Holes have been poked in both Iowa’s offense and defense because of injuries, but players are close to returning.

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Injured Hawkeyes headline Week 8 of college football

Iowa running back Toren Young carries the ball during Iowa's game against Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Gophers 48-31.

Iowa running back Toren Young carries the ball during Iowa's game against Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Gophers 48-31.

Nick Rohlman

Iowa running back Toren Young carries the ball during Iowa's game against Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Gophers 48-31.

Nick Rohlman

Nick Rohlman

Iowa running back Toren Young carries the ball during Iowa's game against Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Gophers 48-31.

Anna Kayser, Assistant Sports Editor

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The theme for Iowa football in the past couple of weeks has been focused around next man up — an effort to diminish the effect of injuries on the roster — and now with starters returning, there is more depth than ever before.

The main focus from Iowa’s media availability on Tuesday was injuries and what that means for each position specifically as well as the team overall.

Running back

Ivory Kelly-Martin was out against Indiana because of concussion protocol, but he began practicing on Monday and should be ready to go against Maryland, head coach Kirk Ferentz said. Toren Young is listed as the starting running back with Mekhi Sargent backing him up. Last week, Young ran for 96 yards on 19 carries filling in for Kelly-Martin.

Sargent continued his work in his role, averaging 3.9 yards per carry on the season.

“[We] don’t really expect to miss a beat with it,” quarterback Nate Stanley said. “All three of those guys back there have done a great job all year and really just don’t think anything will change.”

Young has the most carries for the team on the season with 73 but has seen significantly fewer snaps when Kelly-Martin is healthy. In the 73 carries, he has collected 386 yards and has lost only 4.

Ferentz said the work Young puts in makes him a vital leader on the team despite how much time he sees on the field.

“He’s a guy when he’s on the field, he energizes your team,” he said. “You might count the snaps; you don’t appreciate the full value of what they do for our football team.”

Compared with Sargent and Kelly-Martin (3.6 yards per carry), he averages 5.2 yards when he has the ball.

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“It’s something we’ve worked on all year,” Young said. “Starting in camp, we had different rotations with different guys getting in there … just trying to be prepared. We’ve all gotten work with the 1s, the 2s, we’ve been in with different groups, so that’s really beneficial.”

The rotating nature of the running backs isn’t new to the injury-prone position. Iowa’s offense has rarely had all three running backs in healthy this season.

Linebacker

On the defensive side, Nick Niemann also began practicing on Monday and is listed on the depth chart as the backup outside linebacker to Barrington Wade.

Niemann has been sidelined with a leg injury sustained against Wisconsin on Sept. 22, and since then, Iowa has featured a rotation of linebackers with different skills to fill the void.

“[Niemann] was playing really good football for us before he went down with that injury,” defensive back Jake Gervase said. “It’s another moving piece, it’s another personnel group, but the more guys we’ve got healthy, the more guys we can throw in there in certain situations that’ll help our defense play better.”

A general look

Linebacker Jack Hockaday and fullback Brady Ross will both be out against Maryland. Hockaday is still sidelined after a knee injury from Oct. 6 at Minnesota, and Ross sustained a left leg injury at Indiana.

At cornerback, Michael Ojemudia and Matt Hankins are very close to starting, Ferentz said, but true freshmen Riley Moss and Julius Brents are slated to start for the third week in a row.

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