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Hawkeyes to be tested by Robinson's absence

10/27/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

There wasn't a more consistent and stable position in the Big Ten last year than running back at Iowa.

Shonn Greene bulldozed his way to the Doak Walker Award, eclipsing 100 rushing yards in all 13 games for the Hawkeyes.

But since Greene declared for the NFL draft, the Hawkeyes have struggled to find stability in the backfield. Jewel Hampton and Jeff Brinson, the projected successors to Greene, battled injuries in spring ball and camp, with Hampton eventually being shut down for the season days before the opener. Redshirt freshman Adam Robinson stepped into the starting role in Week 2 and performed very well, ranking fourth in the Big Ten in rushing average (78.6 ypg) and protecting the football.

Now the Hawkeyes likely will be without Robinson for the rest of the regular season after he sustained an ankle injury in Saturday's win against Michigan State. Robinson rushed for a career high 109 yards in the game.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz left the door slightly open for an earlier return, saying Robinson's injury is similar to the one that kept tight end Tony Moeaki sidelined for three games earlier this season. But Robinson will almost certainly miss a Nov. 14 trip to Ohio State, a game that could determine Iowa's postseason fate.

True freshman Brandon Wegher will make his first career start Saturday against Indiana (ESPN, noon ET), with junior Paki O'Meara serving as the backup. Iowa fans were thrilled when Wegher committed, and he has shown flashes of big-play ability. But Robinson was the more complete back and will be missed.

Ferentz also confirmed that guard Dace Richardson is out for the rest of the regular season with a leg injury.