IOWA CITY, Iowa — Reinforcement may be coming on the Iowa offensive line, but help isn’t expected to arrive in the secondary in time for the Hawkeyes’ bowl game.
Not only is OT Cole Croston questionable for the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2, but head coach Kirk Ferentz said on Sunday, “He has a realistic chance” to play.
The news isn’t as good for CB Manny Rugamba. The true freshman is unlikely to face No. 17 Florida because of a shoulder injury suffered in the regular-season finale.
“Manny has an outside shot,” Ferentz said, “but I don’t know if we can count on him. We’ll probably know more in a couple of weeks. It depends on how things come together.”
Croston suffered a leg injury in the middle of the season. He played in only one of the final six games. The five weeks between the Nebraska win and the bowl game could be enough time to let Croston, a senior, put on his Iowa helmet one last time.
“He is not practicing yet,” Ferentz said. “So it’s one of those long, slow deals.”
If Rugamba can’t go he’ll join starting CB Greg Mabin (broken right leg) on the sideline for the bowl game. That would likely push reserve sophomore Josh Jackson into a starting role and make redshirt freshman Michael Ojemudia the nickel back. The duo has a combined 12 tackles and 5 pass breakups. But their inexperience may not be the biggest issue for Iowa’s secondary — the Hawkeyes are simply running out of healthy bodies to use in against the Gators.
“The next two and the last two I think,” said Ferentz of Jackson and Ojemudia.
The good news for Iowa is Florida isn’t known for a particularly potent passing attack, averaging 215 passing yards per game.
Also, Ferentz confirmed that FB Drake Kulich will miss the game with a broken left leg also suffered in the regular-season finale against Nebraska.