Iowa football notebook: Schott returns up front, Hawkeyes ignoring rankings

Offensive guard Kyler Schott is back on the two-deep depth chart heading into Week 3.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa right guard Kyler Schott converses with a reporter during Iowa football media day at Iowa football’s practice field on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

“Shooter” is healthy again.

Fifth-year guard Kyler Schott missed the first two games of the season after fracturing his right foot while baling hay on his family farm in Coggon, Iowa, last month. “Shooter,” as his teammates call him, has eight career starts and was positioned to start at right guard for the Hawkeyes before his injury.

Schott has returned to Iowa’s two-deep depth chart and should be available for the team’s Week 3 game against Kent State.

“Everybody was able to practice [Tuesday],” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Kyler Schott is working back. He started working back last week and got some work in. He’ll play some this week — don’t know how much — but he’ll play some. Will be good to get him back with the team.” 

Schott is listed as the No. 2 right guard on Iowa’s current depth chart.

Justin Britt is currently slated to start at that spot. Britt and freshman Connor Colby have rotated at right guard since Schott’s injury. Schott’s return will provide a veteran presence to an offensive line that starts a freshman and two sophomores.

“I think Kyler is a really physical guy,” redshirt freshman left tackle Mason Richman said. “He brings an attitude each and every week. I also think he brings leadership. We have [Tyler] Linderbaum and Cody [Ince], but when you get two great guys like Schott and Linderbaum, it brings the group closer together.”

Rankings matter — just not yet

Iowa is up to No. 5 in the Associated Press’ rankings this week after its 27-17 victory over Iowa State in Ames. The Hawkeyes are the only team to have two top-20 victories on the season. The team thumped then-No. 20 Indiana 34-6 in Week 1.

The Hawkeyes have their highest positioning in the AP poll since Nov. 29, 2015, when they were ranked No. 4. It’s hard for Iowa’s players not to see the praise the team is getting through two games. But they recognize that rankings don’t mean much in September.

“They’re just reading tea leaves right now,” VanValkenburg said. “That doesn’t matter at this point.”

“We look at it, but we talk about how the most important ranking is at the end of the year in January after the bowl game,” cornerback Riley Moss added. “We take it into account, but we’re still gonna keep working and doing our thing.”

This is the first time Iowa is in the top-five of the AP poll in September since 1985.

“Right now it’s really more about speculation, projection,” Ferentz said. “But I know that. Hopefully our players understand that. We’ve won two games. We’re thrilled to death to be 2-0. It’s the best you can be. We still could be 2-10 mathematically. But it means nothing. Nobody is smart enough to know what it’s going to look like in November or December. Hopefully we’re in that discussion, but there’s a whole lot of work to do between now and then to still be relevant at that point.”

Iowa’s offense out to a slow start

Despite its No. 5 ranking and the team’s defense and special teams units excelling, Iowa’s offense is ranked 126th in the nation and last out of Power Five teams averaging only 238 yards per game.

“I can’t tell you it’s unpredicted or unexpected,” Ferentz said. “I look at our football team and going back to coming out of August, we’re young in both lines in a lot of areas from an experience standpoint. You look at the offensive line — take Schott out of there, which we have the last couple weeks — so we expected some bumps, at least I did. I thought that was going to be part of the process.”

The Hawkeyes have scored two offensive touchdowns in both of their two victories this season. Iowa lost two fumbles against Indiana, but quarterback Spencer Petras has yet to throw an interception.

Iowa’s defense has aided the team’s offense, scoring three touchdowns through two games.

“What I’ll really be concerned about is if we don’t see continual growth,” Ferentz said. “That’s what we’re banking on moving forward. That’s really with our whole football team, especially up on both lines. That’s where it really shows a little bit more than other places. I think if we can continue to grow and continue to improve, I think we’ll have a chance to be a good offensive team.”

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