IOWA CITY — While the Michigan football team battled Iowa on Saturday, Ricky Barnum sat at home in Ann Arbor.

Barnum, the regular starter at left guard, has dealt with injuries to both ankles this season and wasn’t healthy enough to go against the Hawkeyes.

His absence left an already thin group even thinner — the Wolverines have just six offensive linemen, including Barnum, who have played in meaningful situations.

Redshirt sophomore left tackle Taylor Lewan, playing with a heavily taped left knee and hand, started in Michigan’s 24-16 loss to the Hawkeyes. In a normal situation, there’s a good chance Lewan, who suffered leg and wrist injuries last week against Purdue, wouldn’t have played on Saturday. But the Wolverines simply didn’t have any other options.

Redshirt sophomore Michael Schofield started in place of Barnum, leaving redshirt junior Elliot Mealer as the only backup lineman with experience.

Though the offense struggled at times on Saturday, the line’s play was solid throughout the game.

“I think they did some good things,” said Michigan coach Brady Hoke. “As we look at it, I think there’ll be some things they did real well and there’ll be some things we have to go back and fix.”

More often than not, the line gave junior quarterback Denard Robinson plenty of time to find an open receiver.

On 2nd-and-goal from the five-yard line during Michigan’s first scoring drive of the game, the Wolverines lined up in I-formation. Robinson faked the handoff to sophomore running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and dropped back to pass.

He looked right. He ran left. He looked to the middle of the end zone, then danced left again before ultimately scrambling back right. He scanned the end zone and finally fired a pass into the belly of a wide-open Toussaint for the score.

Robinson held onto the ball for 10 seconds before letting it fly, and he was never touched by an Iowa defender.

A quarter later, Michigan was knocking on the Hawkeyes’ door again. From the 11-yard line, Robinson took the snap in shotgun formation. Once again, he had plenty of time and no defenders in his face. But on that play, he threw the ball into traffic, and the ball was tipped into the air before falling into the arms of Iowa linebacker Christian Kirksey.

Robinson finished the game just 17-for-37 for 197 yards, but he was the first to say that his struggles weren’t due to a lack of time to throw.

“(The offensive line) played great,” Robinson said. “Hats off to them. And I love them.”

KOVACS RETURNS: After missing last weekend’s game against Purdue with a knee injury, redshirt junior safety Jordan Kovacs returned to action against the Hawkeyes.

Kovacs, who started alongside fifth-year senior Troy Woolfolk, didn’t appear limited because of the injury. He recorded six tackles against Iowa.

“(The coaches) were working me into the lineup all week and I could tell they wanted me to play,” Kovacs said. “I felt like I could play. (The knee) felt great.”

Even though his knee felt alright, Kovacs was still hurting after the game.

“(This loss) hurt,” he said. “It still hurts. But we’ve just got to remember the taste, get better, watch the game film tomorrow, learn from it but move onto the next one.

“We can’t let Iowa beat us twice.”

DILEO’S DISASTER: If Michigan had scored at the end of the fourth quarter, the Wolverines still would’ve needed to convert a two-point conversion in order to force overtime — they were down 24-16 at the time.

Sophomore receiver Drew Dileo’s miscue was the reason a two-point conversion was needed.

After Robinson’s touchdown pass to Toussaint made the score 7-6 Iowa, Dileo jogged out on the field — he’s been the holder on field goals and extra points all season.

Until that point, Dileo had been sure-handed. But for one reason or another, he couldn’t handle the snap by fifth-year senior Tom Pomarico.

The ball hit him square in the hands, but he simply lost control of it. Realizing there was no chance for redshirt sophomore kicker Brendan Gibbons to get the kick off, Dileo grabbed the ball and tried to run but was immediately brought down by a swarm of Hawkeye defenders.

After the game, Hoke defended his receiver.

“He’s caught probably a thousand of (those snaps),” Hoke said. “Like anything else, it was probability. It’s going to happen.”

NOTES: Iowa wore special helmets to honor all of the men and women serving in the military. They were the same traditional black head pieces but featured a red, white and blue tigerhawk on the right temple. … Fifth-year senior receiver Kelvin Grady had two receptions on Saturday, matching his season total. … Gibbons converted a 32-yard field goal in the third quarter. He’s now 7-for-9 on field goals this season after finishing 1-of-5 last season.

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