IOWA CITY — As far as anyone knows, the Hawkeyes had the greatest scrimmage in history. That’s in the wind now, because no one remembered a thing after running back Barkley Hill’s knee injury.
The true freshman from Cedar Falls suffered a injury to his left knee while crossing the goal line for an 8-yard touchdown during Saturday’s open scrimmage at Kinnick Stadium. Hill, 6-0, 210 pounds, had crossed the goal line when fullback Jacob Reisen and cornerback Torrey Campbell banged into him. Hill’s knee buckled and he feel to the FieldTurf, where he stayed for several minutes.
He couldn’t put weight on the leg and was carted to the lockerroom.
Iowa sports information director Steve Roe said there would be no official word on the extent of the injury until it was assessed by team doctors. The timeline for that could be any time, he said. Ferentz didn’t speak to reporters after practice. Video showed the knee buckle. Ferentz was one of the first coaches over to check on Hill.
“That I don’t know,” first-year offensive coordinator Greg Davis said. “I saw the same thing you all saw, you probably had a closer look than I did. Kirk told the team he’s being examined now.”
So, let’s re-, re-, re-, reassess where the Iowa Hawkeyes stand at running back two weeks before they open the season at Soldier Field in Chicago against Northern Illinios.
Sophomore Damon Bullock appears to be the starter. He carried just six times for 16 yards in the scrimmage, but showed some versatility with two catches for 19 yards.
Hill and fellow true freshmen running backs Greg Garmon and Michael Malloy sat out last week’s scrimmage with minor injuries before their debut Saturday.
Garmon, a 6-1, 190-pounder, showed patience, waiting for blocks to set up before kicking it into high gear. Against the second and third teams, he also moved the pile. On his one reception, he set up defenders for a quick burst to the outside for a 17-yard gain on a second-and-13.
“There were several different situations where the play was run and it looked like it was going to be second-and-7 and all of the sudden you look up and it’s second-and-5,” Davis said. “He [Garmon] was moving the pile forward and that’s something we’ve got to have.”
Garmon led the Hawkeyes with 43 yards on 11 carries. Hill was next with 23 on seven. Hill also led with three catches for 57 yards.
“I thought they looked like talented guys,” Davis said. “They’ve shown that to this point. They both took care of the ball well.”
Malloy, 6-0, 180 walk-on, rushed 10 times for 23 yards. Despite being thin for a running back, he wasn’t afraid to run the ball between the tackles. Junior walk-on Andre Dawson saw action with the No. 3s and carried six times for 26 yards.
“We wanted to see the young guys 1) protect the ball and we wanted to see 2) who could break tackles and make plays and 3) who was going to handle the environment,” Davis said. “I’d say Monday or Tuesday, we’ll start stacking it a little neater.”
Iowa broke camp Saturday with classes set to begin Monday at the UI. This leaves the Hawkeyes with one more week before an official game week. Do they pull up on contact with the running backs?
“It’s a physical game,” Davis said. “We’re going to be smart from this point in. It’s a shame what happened to Barkley and hopefully he’ll be fine.”
Could sophomore Jordan Canzeri, who suffered a torn ACL in spring practice, be available? No one has shut the door and Canzeri himself said he could be ready for the start of the season on media day. Still, that’s a long shot.
Wide receivers Keenan Davis and Kevonte Martin-Manley didn’t participate, but Davis said neither had anything serious going on physically. Defensive end Joe Gaglione left the scrimmage with what looked to be a concussion. Offensive tackle Brett Van Sloten, middle linebacker James Morris and cornerback Sean Draper also didn’t practice.
Without the Nos. 1 and 2 wide receivers, Iowa’s tight ends flexed their muscles. Junior C.J. Fiedorowicz caught a pair of passes on the offense’s opening drive, helping to set up Mike Meyer’s 46-yard field goal. Redshirt freshman Jake Duzey caught the only TD pass, a 25-yarder from backup quarterback Jake Rudock.
Duzey, 6-4, 235, seems to be in the plans.
“He runs well, catches the ball well and creates mismatches,” Davis said. “He’s a ‘B’ position guy. He has to be able to be a back, tight end and wide receiver. Jake can do those things.”
Cornerback B.J. Lowery returned from a sprained ankle and did a little bit of everything, picking a tackle for loss, pass breakup and fumble recovery. Defensive tackle Carl Davis mixed in against the first- and second-team offense and had two tackles for loss, including a sack.
Senior Tommy Donatell and sophomore Nico Law continue to split strong safety.
“It’s still a revolving door there a little bit,” defensive coordinator Phil Parker said. “We’re trying to figure out if it’s Nico Law or Tommy, who’s had a good two-a-days. We’re happy with him and we feel good about that. There’s a good challenge.”