The biggest thing I took from Saturday’s Kids Day practice was being reminded just how nasty and unforgiving the game of football is on the human body.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz spent most of his post-practice interview with reporters updating the walking wounded on his team. It was a sobering and long list that included mostly first and second-year players and also Iowa defensive line coach Reese Morgan.
The 62-year-old Morgan made the list after being ran over by a player on the sideline near the end of practice. Morgan remained on the ground for several minutes while being examined. He finally stood up and waved to the relief of everybody inside Kinnick Stadium.
Perhaps the saddest news was that true freshman defensive back Ruben Lile recently suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and will be lost for the season.
Or perhaps it was Ferentz confirming that oft-injured junior offensive lineman Nolan MacMillan is injured again, this time with a broken arm. MacMillan has been plagued by injuries since coming to Iowa, including missing all of last season with a sports hernia injury. The good news is that Ferentz expects MacMillan to resume practicing next week.
Saturday’s practice was supposed to be the first chance to see true freshmen running backs Greg Garmon and Barkley Hill perform as Hawkeyes. However, they were both no-shows, much to the disappointment of reporters and certainly to the roughly 5,000 fans who attended the practice.
Ferentz said afterward that Garmon and Hill were both “dinged up.” That’s another way of saying they’re both hurt but not really injured.
Being dinged up really isn’t that bad considering everything else that’s happened to Iowa running backs recently.
It’s more frustrating than anything because of the lost opportunities for two true freshmen who are being counted on to contribute.
“They’ve been doing fine,” Ferentz said of Garmon and Hill. “It’s unfortunate because today was a big day. We don’t tackle a lot in practice. We may have to do more than we expected until we find out how they play.”
Of course, the problem with tackling more in practice is the higher risk of injury. Sometimes, though, you have to take risks to get where you want to be.
Other notable players who missed Saturday’s practice included starting cornerback B.J. Lowery, starting fullback Brad Rogers, backup fullback Jonathan Gimm, backup linebacker Quinton Alston, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jordan Walsh, redshirt freshman defensive end Riley McMinn and true freshman receiver Maurice Fleming.
Ferentz said Lowery and Alston both suffered sprains, but Ferentz didn’t say anything more specific than that.
“We had two that were significant and will be awhile,” Ferentz said, presumably in reference to Lowery and Alston.
Ferentz also pointed out that most of the injured players are either in their first or second year in the program. Seven of the 11 aforementioned injured players fall into that category.
“Injuries are a part of football,” Ferentz said. “And I think part of it is a majority of our injuries are first-year players and second-year players who are still trying to just figure out the tempo in general. I think that’s part of it and factors in there.”
Part of figuring out the tempo is adjusting to the physicality at the collegiate level but also learning how to play with pain.
This isn’t to suggest that any of the injured players are soft because you don’t make it this far in such a violent sport by being soft.
This is a whole new experience for the first-year players and their bodies still are getting used to the demands at this level.
The game is never easy on the body, but the higher you climb in competition, the harder it gets.
Some players also are more durable than others, whereas some players are just luckier than others when it comes to avoiding injuries, or in Ruben Lile’s case, unluckier than others.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football