Schott’s return bodes well for Iowa in Minnesota matchup

Kyler Schott’s foot injury hurt Iowa’s offensive line, but now that he’s back, the unit is looking to take a step forward against Minnesota.


Katie Goodale

Iowa offensive lineman Kyler Schott blocks Miami (Ohio) linebacker Myles Reid during Iowa football vs. Miami (Ohio) at Kinnick Stadium on Aug. 31, 2019. Iowa defeated the Miami (Ohio) 38-14.

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

Kyler Schott’s return to the starting lineup for Iowa didn’t produce eye-popping results against a stout Wisconsin defense on Nov. 9.

The Hawkeyes ran for just 87 yards and gained 295 total yards after racking up only 93 in the entire first half.

Schott’s return, however, should bode well for the rest of the season. With him in the lineup, the Hawkeyes finally have some continuity up front after shuffling the starting lineup around nearly every game.

“It feels good just knowing that you come back from injury, and you got that spot there for you,” Schott said. “That must mean that the coaches know you’re there and doing a good job.”

Schott stepped up at a critical time for the Hawkeye offensive line when offensive tackle Alaric Jackson went down in Iowa’s season-opener against Miami (Ohio).

Then, Schott fell victim to a foot injury himself after Iowa downed Iowa State.

The offensive line didn’t look the same after that. In Iowa’s first big game after Schott’s injury, Hawkeye quarterback Nate Stanley was sacked eight times and threw three interceptions, as the Wolverines beat Iowa, 10-3.

Now that Schott’s back, there’s a renewed hope for an offensive line that couldn’t stabilize itself all season.

But to move forward, it’ll need to start cleaner than it did against the Badgers.

“We need to start faster for sure,” Schott said. “That’s probably what the whole offense needs to do. We all need to start faster. Later in the game, our pass protection was a lot better than it has been.”

Preparing for a potent Gopher offense

Iowa has a big opportunity on Saturday when No. 7 Minnesota visits Kinnick Stadium.

The Hawkeyes find two trophy games remaining this season against the Gophers and Nebraska, and they’re fighting for a 10-win season.

It all starts against this week against one of the better offenses in the Big Ten.

The Gophers boast two key threats out wide in wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson. Bateman leads the Big Ten with 847 yards on 38 receptions, and Johnson ranks fifth with 730 yards on 50 catches.

Minnesota can be just as dangerous on the ground. Running back Rodney Smith trails only Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins in conference rushing numbers this season with 940 yards and seven touchdowns.

Add in Tanner Morgan at quarterback, who’s thrown for 2,100 yards, 21 scores, and only four picks, and it’s clear the Gophers can attack defenses from all angles.

“They’re well-rounded, I guess, is a good way to put it,” Iowa linebacker Nick Niemann said. “Just making sure everyone’s on the same page playing together is big for us. Their kind of offense thrives on big plays, and that’s why they put up so many points a game, so stopping that’s going to be important.”

Injury report

Things are slowly getting better for Iowa on the injury front.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said wide receiver Brandon Smith — who went down with an ankle injury against Purdue on Oct. 19 — is making progress and running with trainers. Ferentz wants Smith to dress against Minnesota, but he doesn’t expect him to play.

“He’s actually out there running out the trainers,” Ferentz said. “Starting to move around, change of direction, those types of things. We’ll see how fast he comes along, but it’s at least encouraging.”

Fellow pass-catcher Nate Wieting is back in the mix at tight end after practicing the Friday before Iowa’s game against Wisconsin.

On the defensive side, linebacker Kristian Welch is questionable after showing improvement, Ferentz said.

“It certainly helps to have senior players out there, and [Welch] is a leader,” Ferentz said. “He’s been voted captain I think weekly here, so I think that tells you the respect everybody has for him.”