Tuesday, October 05, 2004

No Clear-Cut Answer to Iowa's Injuries

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said today there’s “no clear-cut conclusion” that can be made about the unusually-high number of serious injuries suffered by his players this season.

Ferentz’s comment came on the day that Hawkeye running back Jermelle Lewis was ruled out for the rest of the season because of an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his knee sustained in last week’s 38-16 victory over Michigan State.

Lewis, who leads the team with 200 yards rushing, is the third Iowa running back to be lost to a season-ending knee injury already this fall.

Marcus Schnoor and Albert Young both went down with knee injuries earlier in the season.

“Losing Jermelle is extremely disappointing for all of,” Ferentz said. “He hasn’t had a lot of good luck during his college career, and our first and foremost thoughts are concerning his welfare.

“He’s worked awfully hard to get back from previous injuries, and it’s hard to see him suffer this setback.”

Ferentz said Iowa players have already had 10 surgeries this season, adding that coaches and medical people are looking for reasons why there have been so many injuries.

“We had a medical meeting this morning, and I know some talk was going on over the weekend,” Ferentz said. “Anytime you have injuries, you go back and try to analyze.

“I really think a lot of it is very cyclical. In 2002, we sailed right through without many problems at all. We didn’t lose a starter to a surgery. We didn’t have many problems. It was one of those years that went real smoothly, and this one is probably just the opposite.

“It’s part of football. That’s the bottom line. I read an article in, I think the Sporting News, last week about trying to attribute the injuries to the knew brand of turf, which is interesting.

“We’ve had three of our ACL’s this year come on grass. Maybe the conclusion there is that we need to go to the old-fashioned, hard turf. Maybe that was better, but everybody was in an uproar about that.

“When all is said and done, I don’t think there’s any clear-cut conclusion you can come up with.”


Ferentz said he hasn’t seen any videotape yet of Wisconsin this season, “but I’ve seen their statistics and I don’t care who you’re playing, the only stat that really counts on defense is how many points you give up.

It’s phenomenal. They’re doing an outstanding job in that regard.”

Bielema is a former Iowa player and assistant coach, and Ferentz has a lot of admiration for him.

“I remember him coming here as a player when I was an assistant coach in the late-1980s. He was a walk-on from a small town just across the border in Illinois. He ended up being a captain, so that gives you an insight into the kind of intangibles he possesses.

“He was the same way as a coach when I got back here 5 ½ years ago. He was bright-eyed, energetic, eager, intuitive, inquisitive—you name it, he does a good job. He loves coaching and obviously does a very good job at it.”

Bielema left Ferentz’s staff to become co-defensive coordinator with former Iowa and Iowa State player Bobby Elliott at Kansas State, and now is in his first season as defensive coordinator at Wisconsin.


Iowa [1-1 in the Big Ten and 3-2 overall] doesn’t play again until Oct. 16 against Ohio State at Iowa City.

“With the week off, it was good for us to win a football game and end on a positive note,” Ferentz said.

Vol. 4, No. 264
Oct. 5, 2004