Iowa football notebook: Ferentz expects Smith-Marsette back after one-game suspension, talks MSU matchup

Smith-Marsette was arrested Sunday for operating while intoxicated.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz speaks to his team during a football game between Iowa and Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, September 14, 2019. The Hawkeyes retained the Cy-Hawk Trophy for the fifth consecutive year, downing the Cyclones, 18-17.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz took the podium for his weekly in-season press conference on Tuesday and started it off with a remark fit for the day.

“Happy Election Day,” Ferentz said to media members over Zoom.

The Hawkeyes did not hold practice on Tuesday as a newly imposed NCAA mandate gives athletes Election Day off to ensure they can vote.

The topic of the press conference quickly turned to football, mainly how the Hawkeyes rebound from an 0-2 start to the season. A situation that was made more difficult after star wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette was arrested Sunday morning for operating while intoxicated.

Smith-Marsette, 21, was clocked going 74 mph in a 30 mph zone and blew a 0.13 on a blood-alcohol test.

“It’s very disappointing,” Ferentz said Tuesday. “Ihmir is very remorseful. I think he fully realizes just the potential danger of the situation first and foremost, not only to himself but to other people, and it’s a regrettable decision that he made, so he’ll deal with it.

“I’ve known Ihmir for four-plus years now. He’s a tremendous person and a great team member. For me personally, this is very uncharacteristic of him and surprising. It’s something he did and it’s a bad decision. It’s like all of us in life, you make a bad decision, you have to live with it. I think he’ll push forward, that’s my sense right now, but we’ll see how things pan out.”

Ferentz released a statement on Sunday announcing that Smith-Marsette was suspended for Iowa’s Week 3 game against Michigan State and that availability for future games will be determined as he goes through the University of Iowa Student Athlete Code of Conduct process.

RELATED: Iowa WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette suspended for Michigan State game following OWI arrest

On Tuesday, Ferentz said he anticipates Smith-Marsette will return to Iowa’s lineup after his one-game suspension.

Smith-Marsette, Iowa’s leading receiver last season, practiced on Iowa’s scout team on Monday, as he will do throughout this week. Ferentz said Tyrone Tracy and Charlie Jones will see more snaps as a result of Smith-Marsette’s absence.

Another Hawkeye hits the transfer portal

Two Iowa football players — redshirt freshman running back Shadrick Byrd and redshirt freshman linebacker Yahweh Jeudy — entered the NCAA transfer portal last week. On Tuesday, a third Hawkeye entered the portal.

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Calvin Lockett entered the portal on Tuesday. The 6-foot-2, 183-pounder didn’t see any game action in his time with the program, but had appeared on the two-deep depth chart throughout this career.

“Me personally, I’m not totally shocked,” Ferentz said. “I’m disappointed. I was hoping all three would stay with the team… All three weren’t in the two-deep either of the first two weeks. All that being said, it’s disappointing because all three of them were doing well. They’re all good people and good players. I think they have good potential.

“A lot of times, this type of action happens more so after spring practice when you go through 15 days and it becomes a little more apparent what the roster looks like. Who’s in the two-deep and who isn’t. I’m not sure this is a real unnatural thing, it’s just the timing. We don’t want any players in good standing to leave the football team.”

Iowa preparing for familiar opponent

Michigan State’s starting quarterback Rocky Lombardi has thrown for over 300 yards in both of the team’s first two games of this season, including last week’s upset victory over Michigan.

The West Des Moines Valley graduate was almost a Hawkeye.

Iowa recruited Lombardi, as did Iowa State. But the redshirt junior, whom Ferentz said was one of the best players in the state as a senior in high school, went with the Spartans.

“Rocky’s a tremendous young player, a tremendous young person,” Ferentz said. “He was an outstanding competitor in a couple sports in high school. So we know a lot about him and tried to recruit him. He’s done a great job up there.”

Ferentz credited first-year Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker for the job he’s done despite the unusual offseason. Lombardi started three games for Michigan State as a redshirt freshman and struggled, and then played sparingly last season.

Lombardi now has a grasp on the Spartans’ starting job, and he’s excited for the chance to play against the Hawkeyes in Kinnick Stadium.

“I mean, this is a real homecoming for me,” Lombardi said on Monday. “I’ve had this game circled since I committed here junior year of high school. But, it’s just another game. I’ve gotta prepare like I do every other game and just go out and play the best that I can.”