IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa will go into its final game of the regular season dealing with injuries.
Tight end Sam LaPorta and fullback Monte Pottebaum won’t be available for Friday’s game against Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium, coach Kirk Ferentz said on Tuesday.
Both players, though, could be available for next Saturday’s Big Ten championship game, should the Hawkeyes win on Friday and clinch the West Division title.
The fact that LaPorta and Pottebaum could miss just one game was “better news,” Ferentz said.
“It could have gone either way,” Ferentz said. “You never know what to think coming off the field. They both got tested yesterday. I think things look about as good as they can. We’ll just take it a day at a time. The door is open, but not this week.”
LaPorta is Iowa’s leading receiver, with 53 catches for 601 yards and one touchdown. Luke Lachey will replace LaPorta in the starting lineup.
Pottebaum has just three carries for six yards this season, but is a key blocker for the Hawkeyes when he’s in the game. Turner Pallissard is No. 1 on depth chart at the position for Friday’s game.
Asked how the absence of both could affect Iowa’s offense, Ferentz said, “Sam is Sam, arguably our best guy on offense. Then Monte can do so many things, play in different positions, help us. It kind of limits what we have to do. We have to be smart about it.
“The good news is Luke Lachey has improved week over week the last couple years, has done a good job. (Backup tight end Addison) Ostrenga did a good job jumping in there. We’ll have to play him more. We have to find a way to get it done. We’ll adjust our personnel a little bit.”
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ROBERTS OUT: Senior cornerback Terry Roberts, who has played just five games, won’t play in what would have been his Senior Day game.
“He’s been such a spark player for us — did such a great job on special teams, a real catalyst,” Ferentz said. “When he played in the defensive backfield, he’s played well.
“I’m not sure he’s ever gotten back to full strength whenever it was, late October. It’s tough. He’s tried, worked at it. He shut it down here a couple weeks ago, four, five weeks ago.”
Ferentz said such injuries can take a psychological toll on a player.
“It’s hard,” he said. “I say it every time you talk about a major injury, it’s harder on nobody more than the player, the individual, because of all the investment they make. You only get 12 games guaranteed. Any time you lose one or half a one, that’s important.
“It’s really tough here because it happened at the back end of his career. There’s not next year. … It’s hard on our football team, but it’s tough on the individual.”
SENIOR DAY: A total of 27 players will go through Senior Day ceremonies.
Ferentz said he hasn’t had discussions with any players who are eligible to use the additional season granted by the NCAA because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As far as I know, there’s no NCAA rule yet about if you walk, you’re ineligible from there on,” Ferentz said. “As long as we don’t give them a thousand bucks on the way out…
“We’ll have a couple of those down the road, but right now, go and be honored.”