IOWA CITY – Mark Kallenberger tossed and turned, turned and tossed, and then he played a football game.
The sophomore from Bettendorf made his first collegiate start on the Iowa offensive line during Saturday’s 17-12 loss to 10th-ranked Penn State, moving into the right guard spot Cole Banwart filled before suffering a season-ending injury.
“There were a lot of nerves going into it, more than I anticipated,’’ Kallenberger said, comparing it to what he felt a year ago prior to playing a reserve role in his first college game in Iowa’s season-opening win over Northern Illinois.
“I kept waking up (Friday) night and I’m not sure I really ever fell asleep to be honest. There was a lot of anticipation, an anxious feeling. It wasn’t the rest that I needed or that I’m used to getting.’’
Kallenberger had seen action on a weekly basis throughout the Hawkeyes’ first five games of the season, shuttling between the guard spot he played against the Nittany Lions and a tackle spot after starter Alaric Jackson was injured in Iowa’s season opener.
He learned Wednesday he would be moving into the right guard position in place of Banwart, becoming the fourth Hawkeye in Iowa’s 4-2 start to the season to start at the position.
“I moved over to right guard in practice on Wednesday and took all of the reps with the ones, so I knew it was likely that I would get the start this week with Cole out,’’ Kallenberger said.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz confirmed in his postgame comments that Banwart will miss the remainder of the season, the latest wrinkle in an offensive front five which has used five different starting combinations in six games.
Ferentz said the health situation on the offensive line “makes it a little bit of a challenge,’’ but said Alaric Jackson seemed to play with greater consistency against Penn State than he did a week earlier at Michigan when he saw his first action in four games.
“We have some moving parts, but I think we have enough to win with. We just have to get a little bit better with our execution,’’ Ferentz said. “That was Kallenberger’s first start, playing a little bit of a different position. Thought he responded pretty well, too.’’
The 6-foot-5, 291-pound sophomore found plenty of room to improve.
“My feet and my hands can be a lot better. I missed some things I should have been able to take care of and I take responsibility for that,’’ Kallenberger said. “Penn State’s defensive line was really good and I missed on the defensive tackle a couple of times, letting him get through for a couple of tackles for a loss. I need to bring more focus.’’
Kallenberger expects that to happen.
“I’m anxious to get back out there and fix some things in practice and get ready for the next game,’’ Kallenberger said. “The only thing I can do at this point is keep working to get better.’’
And with another week of work and a good night or two of sleep, Kallenberger expects that to happen.
“Like last year after that first game, things settle down and I’m looking forward to improving and it just being the next game, getting into a routine,’’ Kallenberger said.