Ferentz not optimistic about injured players

September, 22, 2009
9/22/09
6:32
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Kirk Ferentz still lists left tackle Bryan Bulaga (illness), tight end Tony Moeaki (ankle) and wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (hamstring) as day-to-day, but the Iowa head coach isn't counting on them to be ready for Saturday night's clash with No. 5 Penn State (ABC, 8 p.m. ET).

"They all did some stuff [at Sunday's practice], but not full speed," Ferentz said Tuesday. "I don't know how optimistic I am, quite frankly."

All three players missed last Saturday's win against Arizona, and Iowa is preparing as if they won't be back for Penn State. Ferentz dismissed rumors that Bulaga had an infection stemming from a tattoo and said the tackle's illness won't be a long-term issue. Still, it would be somewhat surprising if Bulaga saw the field at Beaver Stadium.

Injuries have hit Iowa especially hard this year , as the team lost projected starting running back Jewel Hampton to a season-ending knee injury in the offseason.

"We haven't had any Christmas presents yet this year," Ferentz said. "So we'll just kind of play it like they're not going to be with us."

Bulaga could be the biggest loss against Penn State's formidable defensive line. The Lions lead the Big Ten in both sacks (10) and rushing defense (46.3 ypg).

Redshirt freshman Riley Reiff has filled in well for Bulaga the last two games and likely will start Saturday.

"He played better and had to because he played against a very good player," Ferentz said, referring to Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed. "That player was a All-PAC-10 player, and I thought Riley met the challenge. He's a young guy right now so he's got a lot of work to do. So does Bryan, whenever we get him back. He's got a lot of work to do, too, technique-wise and that type of thing."

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