IOWA CITY — A season-ending Achilles injury suffered by offensive lineman Ike Boettger forces more than another makeover for the Iowa football team’s offensive line.
It will also in all likelihood end the redshirt possibilities for true freshman Tristan Wirfs.
Coach Kirk Ferentz confirmed Tuesday that Boettger, a 21-game starter for the Hawkeyes, will miss the remainder of the fifth-year senior’s season because of the injury, which occurred during the second half of Saturday’s 44-41 overtime victory at Iowa State.
Ferentz estimated recovery time at four-to-six months, adding he does not believe Boettger will be eligible for a medical redshirt year.
“By the book, no, but we live in a crazy world,’’ Ferentz said.
Boettger’s absence will lead to lineup changes at three offensive line spots for Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game against North Texas.
Sean Welsh shifts to Boettger’s right tackle spot, Keegan Render moves into Welsh’s spot at right guard and Ross Reynolds is expected to replace Render at left guard.
“We spend a lot of time training at multiple positions in fall camp and this is why,’’ said Boone Myers, who is listed as the back-up at both left guard and left tackle this week. “We’re all ready to step in and go wherever we are needed.’’
That doesn’t make the situation any easier to accept for Myers, another senior who has been slowed by ankle issues during the opening weeks of the season.
“It rips your heart out when a teammate goes down like that,’’ Myers said. “Ike’s put so much into this season and to have that taken away from him like that, it’s not fair.’’
Ferentz shares that sentiment.
“I feel bad for Ike. Not only is he a good football player, he’s also a great kid, a senior, had something he was really looking forward to. It’s just a tough deal,’’ Ferentz said. “We have to move on. We have no other choice.’’
Ferentz said the situation puts Wirfs one step closer to the field.
The 6-foot-5, 315-pound lineman from Mount Vernon has been listed as the second-team right tackle the past two games, but Iowa had held him out of competition in hopes of maintaining a redshirt year for him.
“This pushes him forward,’’ Ferentz said. “We’ve been leaning in that direction so right now we just have to plan like he will play at some point because we’re really running out of depth.’’
Wirfs rose to the forefront in fall camp quickly and dealt with a minor injury of his own, but has shown progress in recent weeks.
“There are some things he does very well, at times he does things extremely well, but the consistency factor is the biggest part,’’ Ferentz said. “He was almost doing too well before he got hurt. That seemed to set him back, but now we’re starting to see him climb the ladder again. We need that.’’
FRESHMAN RETURNS: Ivory Kelly-Martin replaced Akrum Wadley as Iowa’s kick returner during the second half of the Iowa State game and the true freshman will hold onto that role against North Texas.
“He looked like he belonged back there,’’ Ferentz said. “That’s how he looked in practice and we wanted to get him going there.’’
Coaches are also trying to watch Wadley’s workload, knowing they’ll need him in November as much as they do now. He carried a career-high 28 times against the Cyclones and caught four passes in addition to returning three kicks, something Ferentz labeled “a full day’s work.’’
OPPORTUNITY: Junior Josh Jackson replaced Matt VandeBerg as Iowa’s punt returner during the Iowa State game and his work has impressed Ferentz.
“The running he’s doing, it’s a different kind of run. Nobody’s hitting him,’’ Ferentz said, adding that freshman Max Cooper is positioned for action in that role, as well.
SEATS AVAILABLE: Iowa has approximately 5,700 tickets remaining for Saturday’s game against North Texas and has 5,500 tickets left for the 6:30 p.m. Big Ten opener on Sept. 23 against Penn State.