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October 22, 2012The good news for Northwestern in the injury department is that running back Venric Mark is expected to play against Iowa on Saturday. The bad news is that two of the Wildcats' top three cornerbacks are not, according to head coach Pat Fitzgerald.
Starter Nick VanHoose, who has been Northwestern's best cover corner all season, is doubtful for Northwestern after hurting his shoulder in last Saturday's loss to Nebraska. Key reserve Quinn Evans, who has started three games and played in all eight this season, also is not expected to play after leaving Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury.
Mark, who rushed for 118 yards on 16 carries against Nebraska, including an 80-yard touchdown run, left the game in the fourth quarter and did not return. He is 90 yards shy of becoming the first Wildcat to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since Tyrell Sutton in 2006.
With two cornerbacks out, Daniel Jones, who started the last two games for the Wildcats, will man one of the Cats' starting spots on Saturday. The other position, however, is up for grabs.
Fifth-year senior Demetrius Dugar, the Cats' most experienced corner, has been dinged up and has not played in either of the last two games. That leaves C.J. Bryant as the most likely candidate. The redshirt sophomore played in relief of Evans last week in the first extended playing time of his career.
With Northwestern's secondary depleted, Iowa may elect to attack the Wildcats through the air. Quarterback James Vandenberg has had an up-and-down year as a passer for the Hawkeyes. He ranks fifth in the Big Ten in passing with 189 yards per game, but he has completed just 55.8 percent of his passes (129-of-231) for 1,323 yards, with three touchdowns and five interceptions. He does not rank among the Top 10 in the conference in passing efficiency.
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