It's here. It's finally, finally here. Game week. Some how we've all managed to survive the long off-season. Thankfully the Olympics provided an oasis for at least a couple of weeks in there. I've found myself spending way too much time watching "Greatest Games" on BTN with teams I don't care about and games I already know the outcome. I even watched the entirety of the GODADDY.com Bowl over the weekend just to scout Northern Illinois.
Anyway. We made it and there are real football things to talk about and a game just 5 days away. For today there are a couple of things I didn't get to last week that I'm deciding to get to now.
The running back situation
Barkley Hill is out for the season with a torn ACL. Old news, but still awful. I am just dumbfounded by the bad luck Iowa has had at running back. We've all gone through it before...pointing fingers at running back coach Lester Erb (which I still think there might be something there, or maybe not), blaming the field turf (which I don't think there is anything there), and cursing AIRBHG.
So now the running back position looks like a wide receiver, a true freshman, and a walk-on true freshman. That's not exactly encouraging. However, I do think Damon Bullock is going to surprise a lot of people this year. He may not be the most skilled runner between the tackles, but I think he will be serviceable. And, I think he'll be a real threat in the passing game.
In the open practices we saw some of Bullock motioning out of the backfield out wide. This could create some real mismatches if the defense is using a heavier personnel expecting a run. I think the screen game could be a large part of the offense this year as well.
I've been going back and forth on whether I think Bullock will finish the season with more rushing yard or receiving yards. Right now I'm leaning rushing by a narrow margin. He's also slated to return kickoffs, so, BOLD PREDICTION HERE, in terms of all-purpose yards I think he'll lead the team with somewhere slightly above 1,000.
And then there's this:
He's back. It's only been about 5 months since Jordan Canzeri torn his ACL, but coincidentally or not, on the very day it was announced that Hill would miss the entire 2012 season, Canzeri shows up in the practice pics in pads and not sporting any sort of knee brace. I think the smart thing to do would be to hold him out until after the bye week. That gives him 2 full months of practice before he would step on the field...though I don't know if Michigan State's defense is exactly where you want to see your first action. This would allow him time to get physically and mentally (he still needs to practice in the new offense) ready. If he's ready to go before then, maybe, maybe let him have a crack at the end of the UNI or Central Michigan game if Iowa has a big lead.
The depth chart
Oh yeah. Iowa released its depth chart for the Northern Illinois game at the end of last week. For maybe the first time ever in the Ferentz era, Iowa has true freshmen on the week 1 depth chart. And not just 1...4. I guess there's no Paki O'Meara or Jason White to mask the lack of depth at running back, and when your backup quarterback is a punter, you know that's not going to last.
So yeah. Greg Garmon and Michael Malloy are list as "or"s for the number 2 tailback. Connor Kornbrath (which I always want to spell "Konnor Cornbrath") is the punter, and Kevin Buford is a backup corner.
There were a few other big surprises on there as well, mostly on offense. I'm not sure how much this has to do with Greg Davis. Maybe some players aren't picking up or just don't fit his system as well as others. Maybe he started from scratch so completely threw out the old depth chart. Or maybe it's something else entirely.
The biggest surprise to me was Mark Weisman passing Brad Rogers as the number 1 fullback. I know Rogers has been hurt in camp, so maybe that's the reason. If Weisman is really better than Rogers, then this great, because Rogers is a very good fullback.
The other surprising spot was at backup tight end. Zach Derby has 5 starts under his belt and has now fallen behind C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ray Hamilton. This is again a situation where if Hamilton is really better than Derby, then that's great news, because Derby has been a solid contributor. It's even more amazing that Jake Duzey has been the name we keep hearing (other than Fiedorowicz) during fall camp and he made some big plays during the open practices. And he's probably 4th string right now. Iowa is incredibly deep at TE this year...if only TEs could run the ball.
A couple other notes:
- Jacob Hillyer is now on the depth chart at WR, surpassing Don Shumpert.
- Nico Law and Tom Donatell are still an "or" for the starting strong safety spot.
- There has been some shake up at backup linebacker...Travis Perry, Macon Plewa, and Marcus Collins are now on the depth chart.
- It's been noted by others, but it is still awesome that the starting offensive line is 5 dudes from the state of Iowa.
This is from last week too, but worth the watch if you haven't seen it yet.