Injuries - The Silver Lining

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Now that the regular season is over, it's time to start reflecting. Really I started reflecting on Sunday, but I took a few days off (it's a holiday week!) and now I finally got this post written. It's hard not to think what could have been if Stanzi hadn't gotten injured...or Hampton, or Robinson, or Richardson, and so on. It is actually quite remarkable that this team got to 10 wins despite all the injuries to key players. The silver lining to all these injuries is that young players and backups gained a considerable amount of valuable experience.


Rilo Kiley knows a thing or two about silver lining.

Out: Rick Stanzi, In: James Vandenberg
Nobody was thrown into a more difficult situation this year than Vandenberg. Every game he played in (besides garbage time against ISU) had a BCS game on the line and the weight on his shoulders. I can't think of a tougher environment to make your first career start than on the road in Ohio Stadium with the Rose Bowl on the line. Vandenberg did very well considering the circumstances. He finished the season going 42 of 87 for 470 yards with 2 TDs and 5 interception. Not great numbers, but the experience will certainly help when Vandenberg has a shot at being the full time starter after Stanzi graduates (of course a lot could happen before that).

Out: Jewel Hampton, In: Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher
Hampton's injury before the season even started opened the door for 2 freshmen. Robinson and Wegher split time most of the year, but both got their shot at being the "premier" back when the other was injured. Before the season started neither was really on the radar, besides some internet fans that were over-hyping Wegher. But now, with all the carries they've had, it's conceivable that they both will see a lot of time the next 3 years. Robinson finished the season with 775 yards on 167 carries and Wegher had 528 yards on 142 carries.

Out: Bryan Bulaga and Dace Richardson, In: Riley Reiff
Perhaps no player stepped up and performed better than Reiff. He played left tackle in Bulaga's absence early in the season. He played so well that he worked his way into a 3-man rotation at guard. Then, when Richardson went down, Reiff earned a permanent spot. He played like a freshman at times, but for the most part exceeded expectation. He will have a spot on the line for 3 more years.

Out: Jordan Bernstine, In: Mycah Hide, Willie Lowe, Greg Castillo
Bernstine's injury coupled with Prater's early 2 game suspension meant the 3 underclassmen saw significant time early in the season. They also were thrown into nickle and dime (yes, they were rare) packages and on special teams. The experience is especially important if Spievey decides to leave for the NFL early.

Out: Jeremiha Hunter, In: Troy Johnson
Troy Johnson had a huge performance in Iowa's shutout of Minnesota. He was second on the team with 11 tackles, had a sack, and recovered a fumble. His effort earned him a Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week Award. Johnson is a likely replacement for Angerer or Edds next season.

Out: Colin Sandeman and Paul Chaney Jr., In: Keenan Davis
It was in the plan to get Davis some reps this year, but he probably saw the field more than Ferentz would have liked. Davis started the year as the 6th or 7th option at receiver, but with the injuries found himself playing in key situation all year. He didn't have many receptions (just 4), but definitely had a chance to get a feel for the offense. He also got a shot at punt returns (until he fumbled) and kickoff returns. With Stross graduating, Davis could easily by the 3rd option next year.
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