TAMPA, Fla. — Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz made it official Wednesday that freshman cornerback Manny Rugamba will miss the Outback Bowl with a shoulder injury.
The true freshman started Iowa’s final three games but injured his shoulder against Nebraska in the regular-season finale. Ferentz hoped Rugamba could play but an X-ray on Tuesday squelched those plans.
Rugamba replaced senior Greg Mabin in the starting lineup against Michigan after Mabin suffered a broken foot in practice. Mabin still is wearing a boot, so he won’t return for the bowl game, either.
That leaves the Hawkeyes (8-4) down to their fourth cornerback to start a game this season. In the morning practice Wednesday, sophomore Josh Jackson opened as the starter opposite senior Desmond King. Freshman Michael Ojemudia is the Hawkeyes’ only other option at cornerback.
“We’re still looking, and we left Iowa, so there’s no one back there,” Ferentz said. “We’re pretty much out of guys. That’s just the way it is. It’s just like the quarterback situation. We’re not going to pull a redshirt.
“We’re out of guys. I suppose we could move somebody from the inside outside, but I’d have to think about that one for a while.”
At strong safety, Ferentz said senior Anthony Gair will open the game but junior Miles Taylor also will play. Taylor, a two-year starter, suffered a concussion against Michigan and was held out against Illinois the following week. Gair stepped in for Taylor and had seven tackles against Michigan and eight at Illinois.
“Anthony is one of the good stories,” Ferentz said. “For us to have a good season, we need good stories, and certainly he’s one of the good ones. Fifth-year senior who really hadn’t played much, wasn’t playing much on special teams, and then stepped in and really played well, and has continued to do so. So he’ll start the game, and it’s not a knock on Miles. They’re both good players, but he’s gone in and played well three games. They’ll probably both play at some point.”
Rugamba was named the Big Ten’s co-freshman of the week after a solid performance against Michigan. In his first career start, Rugamba had three pass breakups, including one in the end zone, and a fourth-quarter interception that helped Iowa to a 14-13 upset.