IOWA CITY — Cornerbacks B.J. Lowery (cramps) and Jordan Lomax (hamstring) each left Saturday’s game with second-half leg injuries. Both have a chance at returning to the field this week against Missouri State.
Lowery, a senior, twice left the game with cramps in his calves, which he said happened all the time in high school. The first time Lowery cramped up was an attempt at a one-armed interception early in the fourth quarter. He felt cramps in his calves and a back spasm simultaneously. He chose to return on Iowa’s next series but gave up two big plays, including the game-tying touchdown pass.
Lowery struggled to get up after the score. He had no thoughts to returning afterward.
“After the second cramp, no,” he said. “I don’t think I had the willpower to go through it again. I didn’t want to affect the team more than I already had. I gave up two plays on that one series. I feel like I probably should have sat down after the first cramp, but that wasn’t in me. So I wanted to go out there and give it another shot.”
Lowery was confident he’ll be able to play. Lomax, who left the game earlier than Lowery, said he has improved but was less confident.
“I feel good, but I’ve got to talk to the trainers and stuff and coaches,” Lomax said.
Cornerback Maurice Fleming, who was considered a second-team cornerback in training camp, missed the game with a leg issue, according to Coach Kirk Ferentz. His timetable is undetermined. Running back Mike Malloy is working through “a medical situation,” Ferentz added.
Iowa’s special teams miscommunication led to another blunder. Late in the third quarter and facing fourth-and-5 at the Iowa 46, Northern Illinois ran a fake punt where upback Desroy Maxwell optioned to punter Tyler Wedel. Iowa defensive end Drew Ott hit Maxwell, who flipped to Wedel, who ran 42 yards. That led to a field goal.
“It was a mental error on our part,” Iowa linebacker James Morris said. “That’s all we’re really going to go into.”
When asked if it was about who was supposed to set the edge on the play, Morris said, “Yeah.”
Northern Illinois attempted a fake punt early in the Orange Bowl last year. Maxwell took off for 35 yards with NIU trailing 7-0.
“It’s something we had seen on film the last couple of years in all regards to the kicking game,” Ferentz said. “So it’s something we are certainly aware of, we have the right people out and we have the miscommunication on one thing that took place and that opened the door and just makes it tough.”
Iowa played just one true freshman in Saturday’s game in cornerback Desmond King. King lined up on kickoff duty but played on defense when Lomax went down. King finished with four tackles, including two solo stops. Both Ferentz and Lowery said King made some typical technical mistakes for a true freshman but was effective.
“I think he stepped in and did really good,” Lowery said. “We talked about it.”
Ferentz said running back LeShun Daniels definitely will play this year. As for any other true freshmen, it’s undetermined.
“I would think somewhere, unless something happens, I think we’ll probably make up our mind in the three, four weeks of the season we are at,” Ferentz said.