Ferentz: Smith Could Miss Significant Time

John Bohnenkamp

IOWA CITY — Kirk Ferentz held optimistic thoughts for the injury to wide receiver Brandon Smith.

The Iowa coach, though, wasn't so positive on Tuesday.

Smith, hurt during Saturday's 26-20 win over Purdue, could miss up to five weeks with an injury to his right leg, Ferentz said during his weekly press conference.

"I think we're looking at probably three, four, five weeks probably, ballpark," Ferentz said. "There's no way to just say when. So wherever that puts us, that's where it puts us. Looked like it might be a contusion, then kind of went south on us."

Smith set career highs with nine catches for 106 yards, but left the game with 4:21 to play and didn't return.

"We were optimistic maybe Sunday, Monday," Ferentz said. "We got a test yesterday, so I think it's going to take a little while to get him back out on the field. That's just the way that goes. Unfortunate, certainly."

The Hawkeyes have depth at wide receiver, but Ferentz knows Smith's impact. Smith, a junior, has a team-high 33 receptions and four receiving touchdowns. He is second on the team with 407 receiving yards.

Smith has six receptions of 20 or more yards.

"He's obviously made some big plays for us," Ferentz said. "Made a couple on Saturday. His growth has really been fun to watch. He's just developed every time out there. It's taken one of our better threats off the field.

"That's part of football. We've gone through it already this season in a couple spots. You just make adjustments and keep playing. That's the way it goes."

"We feel confident with whoever is out on the field," quarterback Nate Stanley said. "They'll be able to produce. We feel confident that even if (Smith) isn't able to play, whoever is in there will do good for us."

Tyrone Tracy Jr., will move into Smith's position. Tracy has 15 catches for 218 yards and a touchdown. Ihmir Smith-Marsette, No. 1 at the other wide receiver spot, could move over to Smith's position as well.

"Obviously we'll juggle a little bit. Opens up some opportunity on the other side, other positions," Ferentz said. "We've got a good group of receivers, certainly better than we did two years ago, even a year ago. Just spreads it around a little bit more, a little bit more opportunity for the other players. It's part of football, everybody absorbing part of that loss."

The depth in the receivers makes it a little easier to absorb Smith's loss. Three receivers — Smith, Nico Ragaini and Smith-Marsette — have caught 25 or more passes this season.

Smith's injury also could mean more playing time for Oliver Martin, the former Iowa City West prep who transferred from Michigan in the early summer. Martin has played sparingly, with just five catches for 28 yards in six games.

Asked if Martin could see more plays, Ferentz said, "Just do the math. He's certainly been in the mix, is in the mix. Subtract one good player out of the mix, there's more snaps available for everybody.

"He's working right now, certainly in the mix for competition this week."

Iowa has five regular-season games remaining, plus has a bye week next week.

Another injured Hawkeye, linebacker Kristian Welch, is unlikely to play on Saturday.

Welch, who didn't play against Purdue, leads the Hawkeyes with 47 tackles.

"Kristian, right now, still isn't practicing, so we'll have to see how that goes," Ferentz said. "I'm not overly optimistic there in that regard."