IOWA CITY, Iowa — Pregame scratches Saturday led to multiple changes to Iowa’s depth chart two days later.
Senior starters Greg Mabin (cornerback), George Kittle (tight end) and Cole Croston (right tackle) all were withheld for various injuries from Iowa’s 14-13 win against Michigan last week. None of the three appears on Iowa’s depth chart for the upcoming game against Illinois.
True freshman cornerback Manny Rugamba stepped in for Mabin at left cornerback and intercepted a pass late in the fourth quarter to end a Michigan scoring threat. Rugamba also recorded four tackles and broke up three passes on his way to earning Big Ten freshman of the week honors. He’s named as the starting left cornerback this week with redshirt sophomore Michael Ojemudia as the backup.
Kittle suffered a foot injury at Purdue on Oct. 15. He tried to play through it against Wisconsin a week later and then at Penn State on Nov. 5 but the injury appeared to bother him significantly late in the game. Saturday night, Kittle wore a walking boot and wasn’t in uniform.
Replacing Kittle at co-starters at tight end are junior Peter Pekar and redshirt freshman Nate Wieting, both of whom opened the game in a two-tight end set Saturday. True freshman Noah Fant was designated as a backup tight end for the first time.
Croston’s absence was expected. He’s had his own lower-leg issues since early October and missed previous games against Purdue and Penn State.
Here is the official depth chart:
Iowa's depth chart has a few changes for this week's game against Illinois. pic.twitter.com/Oti5e5qMty
— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) November 14, 2016
Depth chart shifts
Strong safety Miles Taylor left the game after just two plays against Michigan. On the Wolverines’ first play from scrimmage, Taylor and running back De’Veon Smith collided helmet-to-helmet on Smith’s 4-yard run. Taylor, a sophomore, stayed in the game for one more play before he left for senior Anthony Gair. Taylor was not listed on this week’s depth chart. Gair had seven tackles, including one for loss, against the Wolverines. Gair now is slated to open.
Iowa running back Akrum Wadley shared snaps with senior backfield mate LeShun Daniels all season, but Daniels always was considered the starter. Wadley, a junior, now is designated as a co-starter with Daniels after an impressive performance against Michigan. Wadley combined for 167 of Iowa’s 230 yards, including 115 on the ground. Wadley had 23 carries and caught five of quarterback C.J. Beathard’s eight completions.
The backup running back now is listed as true freshman Toks Akinribade, who moved past former third-down back Derrick Mitchell. Last year, Mitchell rushed for 162 yards and two scores and caught 15 passes for 141 yards. This year Mitchell has two rushes for 12 yards and six catches for 24 yards. Wadley, who has 779 rushing yards, has taken over as the receiving running back role in third-down situations. He ranks second on the team with 28 catches for 272 yards and three touchdowns.
The actual wide receiver rotation has been committed to paper, thus making it official. Sophomore Adrian Falconer is listed as the starting third wide receiver alongside sophomore Jerminic Smith and senior Riley McCarron. Sophomore Jay Scheel is now the top backup at two receiver spots with true freshman Devonte Young as Smith’s backup at split end.
Defensive tackle Nathan Bazata is listed as a co-starter alongside senior Faith Ekakitie this week. Bazata, a junior, was injured against Wisconsin and played sparingly in a reserve role against Michigan. Ekakitie has started the last two games.