Iowa CB Rugamba suspended for opener
IOWA CITY — The Iowa football team will open the season against talented Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen without one of its starting cornerbacks.
Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday that sophomore Manny Rugamba will be suspended for the Sept. 2 home game against the Cowboys because of an offseason violation of team policy. Rugamba is one of two new starting cornerbacks this season for Iowa (8-5 in 2016), which lost Desmond King and Greg Mabin to the NFL.
Michael Ojemudia will move into a starting spot for the opener along with first-teamer Joshua Jackson, Ferentz said. Freshman defensive back Matt Hankins will likely see time as well.
Allen, a 6-foot-5, 233-pound junior, is considered by many to be a future NFL draft pick after leading Wyoming to the Mountain West title game in 2016.
“We’ve been working with that in mind,” said Ferentz about Rugamba’s suspension. “We’ll be ready.”
As for who will start at quarterback for Iowa against the Cowboys and beyond, the Hawkeyes haven’t made up their minds yet.
Sophomore Nathan Stanley appeared to have the edge over junior Tyler Wiegers after winning the No. 2 spot behind C.J. Beathard in 2016. Stanley also played much better than Wiegers in the team’s only public scrimmage, on Aug. 12.
But Ferentz said the competition is “neck and neck,” adding it has been tougher to evaluate Stanley and Wiegers because of the inexperience of the team’s wide receivers. Matt VandeBerg is the only Iowa receiver with a catch in 2016 left on the roster.
Ferentz said it will be tough to know if the coaching staff made the right call on the starting QB until games begin.
“Both guys have improved, and nobody is really pulling away from each other,” Ferentz said. “At some point, we’re going to have to make a decision.”
One of the players Iowa is hoping can help out Stanley and Wiegers at receiver is graduate transfer Matt Quarells, whose debut at Iowa was delayed by paperwork.
Though Quarells has practiced with the Hawkeyes for just over a week, he could still be a factor in Iowa’s passing game in 2017.
“He’s got a lot to learn, just because he is new —- and that’s tough on him,” Ferentz said. “Great young guy, and he’s got a chance to help us.”