Sept. 17, 2003
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday his team would not alter the playbook after confirming that wide receiver Maurice “Mo” Brown would be out until late October.
Brown, a 6-foot-2, 216-pound senior, was brought down by an ankle sprain in last Saturday’s 40-21 victory over Iowa State. Brown is Iowa’s leading receiver with 14 catches for 212 yards. He’s averaged slightly over 15 yards per reception and has three of Iowa’s five passing touchdowns.
Ferentz declined to say whether Brown had undergone surgery for the injury.
“We’re optimistic he’s going to have a good chance at being back after the bye,” said Ferentz. “I guess the good news on Mo is that his shoulders have been sore, his back has been sore, so they ought to be better by the time his ankle is better. So we’ll get the full package back when we get him.”
Brown joins freshman fullback Champ Davis, strong safety Bob Sanders and running backs Albert Young and Jermelle Lewis on the sidelines against 16th-ranked Arizona State this Saturday.
“Losing a guy like Mo really takes some steam out of us,” Ferentz said. “We’re going to lean hard on special teams. Anyone phase of special teams, I think our guys work hard at it and have the right attitude. We’ve got guys who can get the job done. They’ve proven that already.”
The injury leaves 14th-ranked Iowa without much depth in a position already weakened by injuries and forces some players just gaining experience this year into the challenging position of managing an experienced and fast Pac 10 defense.
“We’re down to one proven guy on offense (Fred Russell),” said Ferentz. “That’s the reality of our situation, and we’re going to do our best to find some way of moving the ball against these guys. It’s going to be tough, because they have an excellent defense.”
Senior letter winner Ramon Ochoa is first up to replace Brown, however, much of his experience comes in kick-off and punt returns. Ochoa has had only two receptions for 24 yards, but has four punt returns for 107 yards and two kick returns for 72 yards, including the 11th-longest touchdown return in Iowa history.
Sophomore and returning letter winner Ed Hinkel is next up on the depth chart for receiver and has three receptions for seven yards and one touchdown so far this season. Again, his experience has been in kick-off and punt returns.
“We have some concerns right now,” Ferentz said. “We’re going to go with what we’ve got. I don’t think it’s really one guy’s responsibility, it’s a team thing. We have to do a good job to plan, and our players have to execute.”
The bad news comes amid a busy and unorthodox practice schedule for the Hawkeyes, who not only must prepare for a nationally ranked Pac 10 opponent but also for their first night game. Saturday’s match-up against the Sun Devils starts slightly after 5pm inside Kinnick Stadium.
“We’re not going to cry about it,” Ferentz said. “We have a lot of playmakers out right now, but that’s how things shake out. If we can play solid (on defense) and on special teams, we should have a chance in every football game.
“That’s been our formula all the way along.”
By Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com