Iowa shorthanded at running back again

For the second consecutive season, Iowa is scrambling to find enough capable players to carry the football.

The Hawkeyes announced Tuesday that redshirt sophomore Jewel Hampton needs season-ending knee surgery after tearing his left ACL in Saturday's loss to No. 18 Arizona. This is a very tough blow for both the Hawkeyes and for Hampton, who missed all of the 2009 season after tearing his right ACL in the preseason.

I had really been looking forward to watching Hampton, who did a great job as Shonn Greene's backup in 2008 and had an impressive preseason.

Making matters worse, running back Paki O'Meara sustained a concussion at Arizona and will miss this week's game against Ball State, if not more time. O'Meara already has been a factor on special teams this year, blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown against Eastern Illinois.

Entering camp in August, Iowa appeared to have three solid options at running back with sophomores Hampton, Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher. But Wegher left the team days into camp and has shown no indication that he'll return this year. With Hampton now sidelined, it's critical for Robinson to stay healthy and continue to produce.

"We've got Adam, and anyone else that wants to volunteer," coach Kirk Ferentz said.

The one bit of good news is that freshman Marcus Coker should be back soon after dealing with a shoulder injury since the early part of preseason camp.

Iowa also loses backup middle linebacker and special-teams standout Bruce Davis to a torn ACL suffered on the same play O'Meara sustained the concussion.

I'm a big fan of Robinson's, but the lack of depth at running back likely will cause Iowa to go more to its strengths, the wide receivers and tight ends. The Hawkeyes also need their offensive line to grow up even faster now.