IOWA CITY, Iowa — Sophomore Colten Rastetter continues to hold down Iowa’s No. 1 punter slot entering the Hawkeyes’ midpoint this season, according to the depth chart released Monday.
Rastetter, a walk-on, ranks 84th nationally in punting average at 39.7 yards per punt and 11th among Big Ten punters. The Hawkeyes’ backup punter is first-year player Ryan Gersonde, who has a scholarship. Rastetter’s primary successes have come via rugby-style kicks, and he’s been inconsistent through five games this year.
“Anytime you get a young punter, you’re going to end up riding the roller coaster a little bit,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We’ll assess that this week, just like we’ll assess a lot of things and keep an open mind. I’ve got an open mind at every position. You have to; we’re only five games into this thing.”
Saturday, Rastetter showed some versatility in the Hawkeyes’ 17-10 loss at Michigan State. On the first drive of the third quarter, Iowa faced fourth-and-8 from the Michigan State 23. The Hawkeyes lined up for a field goal, then switched alignments to a fake field goal. Rastetter stood in the shotgun and floated a pass to defensive end A.J. Epenesa, who was playing left tackle in that formation. Epenesa was open but the ball was underthrown. He stopped and turned and caught the ball for a 15-yard gain.
Iowa kicker Miguel Recinos originally didn’t hear the call but quickly caught up.
“I went out there intending to hit the field goal and Colten shouted back, ‘Hawkeye,’ which this week was our signal call for that,” Recinos said. “I was like, ‘Did you say Hawkeye?’ Then I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ I was surprised but I understand coach [Kirk] Ferentz and coach [LeVar] Woods had talked about it, and were like, ‘OK, this is what we want to do.’ Then they told Colten and Colten relayed it to me.
“Give Colten and A.J. credit because I think they executed it really well. I was on the ball, which is what I was supposed to do. Thank God for that. I thought it was a gutsy play call, but it worked. I’m proud of the guys. We were able to take that from the practice field onto the game field.”
Before the snap, Recinos shifted to the right wide receiver position. He didn’t gain any separation on Michigan State’s defensive back.
“I talked to Colten about it and was like, ‘Hey Colten, how about throwing me the ball?’” Recinos said. “[Rastetter said] ‘Uh, I think I’m going to go to A.J.’ I’m like, ‘OK.’ I just ran like a little wheel route if they needed me. But make no mistake; for that specific one, A.J. was our primary target.”
Cornerback Michael Ojemudia, who replaced an injured Manny Rugamba as the Hawkeyes’ starting right cornerback on Saturday, was listed on the first team Monday. Rugamba was tabbed as the backup.
Ojemudia, a sophomore, was tied for second in tackles with 8 on Saturday. He was burned twice for touchdown passes from Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke to receiver Felton Davis and also was hit with a pass interference call.
The only other change was freshman Cole Banwart being named as the backup at center. Banwart and fellow freshman Spencer Williams have rotated at that position on the depth chart for most of the season. Even if Iowa needed another center, it’s likely guard Keegan Render would slide over anyway.
Junior safety Brandon Snyder warmed up with the team in full pads on Saturday but was not put on the depth chart this week. Snyder tore the ACL in his left knee in April and has not played yet this season, but Ferentz said he will within a few weeks. Snyder, who started all 13 games at free safety in 2016, tied for the team high in interceptions and led in forced fumbles last year.
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