Ball State defensive lineman Blake Dueitt runs from Iowa offensive linesman Brandon Scherff (68) during a 35-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Char
Charlie Neibergall
September 10, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says star left tackle Brandon Scherff could be available for Saturday's game against Iowa State despite an undisclosed knee injury.

Scherff? He said that he won't play against the Cyclones after hurting his right knee in the second quarter of last week's 17-13 win over Ball State. And he showed up at Iowa's facility on a pair of crutches and with a bandage on his knee.

He sure didn't look or sound like someone ready to play football this weekend. Scherff told local TV station KCRG in Cedar Rapids that he is hoping to return for Iowa's trip to Pittsburgh on Sept. 20.

Ferentz, often guarded when discussing injuries, repeatedly declared Scherff's status as ''day to day.''

''He was injured Saturday, and we have a couple guys that are stiff and sore right now. We'll see how it goes,'' Ferentz said.

Given that Scherff is a potential first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft and likely Iowa's best player, his expected absence is a blow to the Hawkeyes (2-0). The loss of Scherff - even if it is just for a week - could expose Iowa's lack of depth at offensive line.

Iowa has long been confident in its starting line of Scherff, guard Sean Welsh, center Austin Blythe, guard Jordan Walsh and tackle Andrew Donnal.

But in recent years, the Hawkeyes borrowed a few scholarships typically earmarked for linemen to address deficiencies at wide receiver and other areas.

That has left untested sophomores Mitch Keppy and Cole Croston and redshirt freshmen Boone Myers and Ike Boettger just an injury away from playing.

Scherff missed only a few plays before returning to finish the game against Ball State. Scherff's backup was Boettger, a redshirt freshman who is listed as 53 pounds lighter than the 320-pound Scherff.

Luckily for Iowa, Scherff is the only starting lineman battling injury concerns.

''I think they're improving,'' Ferentz said of Iowa's backup offensive linemen. ''But it's like anything else. Until a guy gets in a game, you're never quite sure. But it's an area we're focused on.''

The loss of Scherff could also inhibit Iowa's desire to get its running game going. Iowa has averaged just 4.1 yards per carry through two games, an uncharacteristically low number for a program long built on establishing the run.

The Hawkeyes have thrown the ball 96 times against just 65 runs, though that number is a bit skewed because the Hawkeyes were forced to pass their way out of a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit against Ball State.

But quarterback Jake Rudock is the team's leading rusher with just 53 yards. It appears the Hawkeyes will have to try to change that without their standout tackle in the lineup.

''It's unfortunate that he won't be able to go this week,'' Donnal said of Scherff. ''We have a bunch of good guys on the depth chart. They'll be ready to step up.''

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Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP

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