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Northwestern’s Venric Mark out vs. Iowa with ankle injury

Northwestern running back Venric Mark runs for touchdown first play game against Minnesotduring first half an NCAA college football game

Northwestern running back Venric Mark runs for a touchdown on the first play of the game against Minnesota during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Minneapolis Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012.(AP Photo/Andy King)

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Updated: October 21, 2013 8:33PM

Throughout running back Venric Mark’s injury-riddled season, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald has been coy about his status.

When Mark was dealing with a lower-body injury early in the season and with an ankle injury in recent weeks, Fitzgerald designated him as day-to-day. On Monday, though, Fitzgerald ruled Mark out for the Wildcats’ game Saturday at Iowa, fueling speculation that Mark’s condition might be worse than initially thought.

Mark missed three games with the lower-body injury before returning for NU’s 40-30 loss to Ohio State on Oct. 5. He then injured his ankle in the first quarter Oct. 12 at Wisconsin, and his status has gotten progressively worse.

Against the Badgers, Mark initially was classified as probable to return before being ruled out at halftime. It then was thought he would be back for the Wildcats’ game this past Saturday against Minnesota, but he didn’t play against the Golden Gophers. After ruling him out for the game against the Hawkeyes, Fitzgerald wasn’t comfortable projecting his status beyond this week.

The news comes at a bad time for NU. The Wildcats have lost three consecutive games and are winless in the Big Ten, and starting quarterback Kain Colter is day-to-day with an ankle injury. Colter also injured his ankle in the first quarter at Wisconsin, but he was able to return to that game. He was listed as questionable against Minnesota but didn’t play.

The injuries to Mark and Colter have limited NU’s ability to run the read option, a crucial element of its offense. Last season, the duo was nearly unstoppable running it. This season, the two have been on the field together for only one full game.


Twitter: @SethGruen

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