IOWA CITY, Iowa — The bye week is over. It’s time for Iowa to move forward with preparation for Northwestern on Saturday (noon ET, ABC, ESPN or ESPN2).
But before we put the off week in the rear-view mirror, let’s take a look back to see who the days off helped the most before going forward into the second half of the season.
1. OL Boone Myers
If anyone on the Hawkeyes needed a bye week it was Boone Myers. It seems like the last time he was healthy was the day before the season started.
Myers sustained an ankle injury in preseason camp. It’s lingered all season and is part of the reason the offensive tackle moved to guard.
He sat out the Illinois game with the hope that two weeks off would help him heal. The only problem is the Hawkeyes aren’t sure if it will work.
The injury is frustrating the entire team, especially Myers, and coach Kirk Ferentz makes it sound as if this is a ligament or muscle injury.
A healthy Myers would go a long way to helping out an inconsistent offensive line. He is on a day-to-day basis, and the team will reevaluate his situation this week.
2. RB James Butler
James Butler sustained a right elbow injury against North Texas in September.
The bye week mattered for Butler because it allowed another week for him to heal without missing a game — if he returns. Ferentz floated the idea of a potential medical redshirt for Butler. An upcoming X-ray will give the Hawkeyes a better idea on if Butler will return.
In an ideal world, he comes back to help a run game in need of improvement and might even allow running back Akrum Wadley to spent more time in the slot, something Iowa backed off of in recent weeks after Butler went down.
3. LB Josey Jewell
A shoulder injury didn’t keep Josey Jewell out of the Illinois game long on Oct. 7, but it sounded as if the injury impacted his play.
The last thing the Hawkeyes need from arguably their most important player is an injury limiting what he can do. The bye came at an ideal time for Jewell.
4. OL Tristan Wirfs
Not everyone on the list needed the bye week to get healthy. Tristan Wirfs, a freshman coming off his first career start, needed the week to work on fundamentals.
Iowa needs Wirfs to build off of an impressive debut against Illinois. Iowa’s best offensive line likely involves him at right tackle. That means he must continue to progress, and the back-to-basics approach being used by the guys up front should help him.
5. DT Nathan Bazata
Injuries are nothing new to starting defensive tackle Nathan Bazata. A high-ankle sprain limited him during the off-season.
Now, the injury bug is back as Iowa kept him out of the end of the Illinois game for precautionary reasons. Like Jewell, the week off came at the right time for Bazata.
“Iwe were playing next week, as far as I know, he’d be ready to go,” Ferentz said on Oct. 7. “But this week off will help him a little bit, get him and the older guys, try to get them healed up a little bit.