IOWA CITY, Iowa - The bye week arrived at the right time for Iowa. Several Hawkeyes suffered injuries in a 26-14 loss against Michigan State on Oct. 5. The group included starters Mark Weisman, Kevonte Martin-Manley, Dominic Alvis and Christian Kirksey.
"We would have been in a little bit of trouble if we played Saturday," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said at his Tuesday press conference. "Fortunately, we didn't. Based on what we saw over the weekend, looks like everybody's ready to go. We’ve just got to get through the week now."
Weisman, the team's leading rusher, and top receiver Martin-Manley were knocked out of the Spartans game. Ferentz said on his Tuesday teleconference that Weisman, specifically, was responding well to treatment on a lower leg injury and would be in action Saturday at Ohio State (2:30 p.m. CT, ABC/ESPN).
Alvis also failed to return to the game after his first-half injury against Michigan State. Kirksey went down late in the contest with what looked like a lower leg problem.
Left tackle Brandon Scherff was taken to the locker room during the Michigan State game but did return to action. Cornerbacks Jordan Lomax and Reese Fleming have been working their way back from early-season injuries and played special teams against the Spartans.
"We're at least, thus far, healthy and will hopefully get through this week without any incidents," Ferentz said.
HOLDING FIRM: Ferentz generated attention when he said last week that his team might not be setting up punt returns in the future. That approach was facilitated by Michigan State succeeding on a fake punt, the sixth time it's happened to the Hawkeyes since 2010.
"Boy, that got quite a national response," Ferentz said. "Better watch what I say. Maybe I should make something up.
"But, I'm not real interested in seeing another fake. So whatever it takes to stop the fake, we'll do that."
UNFRIENDLY CONFINES Having been around college football for almost 25 years, Ferentz has been exposed quite often to the talent-rich state of Ohio. In 1985, as a Hayden Fry assistant, he recruited there the day before their game with the Buckeyes.
"You know, people hardly rolled out the welcome mat," Ferentz said. "I felt like I was from another country, let alone another state. I went and saw Ron Stoops. He was very nice to me for obvious reasons, since his brother is on our staff. Outside of that, we didn't get treated too well. They're a tight state there."
The Hawkeyes have continued to recruit Ohio through the years. Assistants Phil Parker, Brian Ferentz and Jim Reid have been assigned to that state these days.
"It's a challenge," Kirk Ferentz said. "Recruiting's always been a challenge. When you go into a state like Ohio, you're going to see a lot of people there.
"It's like a lot of areas right now. Recruiting, it's harder to find hidden gems, if you will, because of the advent of video. It's hard to find guys, hard to sneak guys."
CORDIAL COLLEAGUES: Reporters pressed Ferentz on his relationship with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who has rubbed some people the wrong way with his opinions since joining the Big Ten two years ago. Ferentz, the dean of conference coaches, took the high road.
"It's complex," the understated Ferentz said. "This is before my time. I imagine the guy (Woody Hayes) that coached there in the '70s, '60s probably ruffled feathers, too."
Ferentz then was asked what type of relationship he has with Meyer.
"I guess I'm not a guy who is looking for friends right now," Ferentz said. "I have friends in my personal life. We don't have a dog. Might consider that.
"It’s been cordial with everybody in our conference. I can't think of anybody that hasn't been cordial with. I've got a lot of respect and admiration for all my colleagues in the league. It's pretty much the same way with Coach Meyer, certainly."
SWITCHING SIDES: Iowa starting strong safety Johnny Lowdermilk grew up an Ohio State fan, the son of Buckeye great, Kirk Lowdermilk. The young Lowdermilk attended the 2009 Iowa-Ohio State game in Columbus dressed in scarlet and gray and rushed the field after the home team clinched a conference title by beating the Hawkeyes.
"Geez, I haven't even thought about that," Ferentz said. "We better check him this weekend. He'll be fine. He's doing a good job for us. He ought to be mad, they didn't offer him a scholarship, so maybe that works to our advantage."
NEXT QUESTION: Iowa struggled to run the ball against the Spartans, gaining 23 yards on 16 carries. The Iowa running backs toted the ball just three times after halftime.
Asked if he felt he abandoned the rush too early against Michigan State, Ferentz's answer was brief.
"We lost the game," he said. "That could be a reason. You could say we didn't complete enough. I don't know. We've moved on."