Howe: Thoughts, Observations – Iowa’s 1st In-Season Depth-Chart
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Let the games begin…thankfully.
The preseason discussion and predictions have run their course. We witnessed that this week with the overreaction to BTN saying Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley struggled during the practice it watched.
News flash: The Hawkeye defense presents one of the tougher challenges the team’s offense will see this season. And, it’s one practice!
That’s why it was refreshing when Iowa released its game notes Friday for the Aug. 31 season-opener against Miami (Ohio) at Kinnick Stadium. It signaled that the time for talking and speculating was coming to a close.
Within the notes, we saw the initial in-season depth chart, the first update since before training camp last month. While we shouldn’t get too worked up about anything on it with another week of practice before kickoff, it showed how things have transpired up to this point.
Keep in mind that coaches, Iowa’s included, do manipulate these things. Sometimes they’re used as motivation. Other times it can be a reward. Ultimately, the coaches will play the guys they feel give them the best chance to win no matter what the two-deep says.
With that in mind, let’s discuss what this one shows:
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-On offense, the coaches listed 12 starters for the preseason depth chart. They removed one receiver spot on the latest two-deep, cutting down to the 11 eligible to play.
As a result, freshman wideout Calvin Lockett dropped off the depth chart, classmate Nico Ragaini went from a starter to Ihmir-Smith Marsette’s backup and Tyrone Tracy took the No. 2 spot behind the other starter, Brandon Smith.
-At tight end, Nate Wieting remained the starter but Drew Cook bumped Shaun Beyer as the backup.
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-On the offensive line, Kyler Schott moves into No. 2 at left guard with previous backup there, Cody Ince, sliding to the second line at right guard. Levi Paulsen moved up to share No. 1 at right guard with Cole Banwart, who had been listed alone in the preseason.
-Spencer Petras has jumped into a share at No. 2 quarterback with Peyton Mansell, who held that spot by himself on the previous two-deep.
-Mekhi Sargent and Toren Young remain as the No. 1 and No. 2 running backs, respectively, but Ivory Kelly-Martin was added to the new depth chart as the third-teamer.
-Turner Pallissard replaces Joe Ludwig as the No. 2 fullback behind Brady Ross.
-Austin Schulte switched from co-No. 2 with Daviyon Nixon at left defensive tackle to No. 3 at right D-tackle. Zach VanValkenburg was added as the third-team right defensive end.
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-D.J. Johnson, who remains listed as the No. 1 Cash, was added as the No. 2 left cornerback, replacing Julius Brents.
-Wes Dvorak replaces Devonte Young as the No. 2 strong safety behind Geno Stone.
-Michael Sleep-Dalton came from off the preseason depth chart to be the No. 1 punter on the latest list. Colten Rastetter, the starter the last two seasons and No. 1 to start camp, dropped to No. 2.
-The way defensive coordinator/secondary coach Phil Parker talked on Tuesday, I thought we might see Jack Koerner overtake Kaevon Merriweather as the starting free safety. But, again, this depth chart was written in pencil and that competition could be ongoing. We might see both in the opener.
-I’m not surprised that Petras moved up to co-No. 1 with Mansell. The coaches are in a tricky spot here. Whoever wins that job could lead to the other guy thinking about his future with the program. Only one guy can start next season when Nate Stanley graduates.
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-Also not surprising was Sleep-Dalton getting first shot at punting. The Arizona State graduate transfer looked good at Kids Day.
-I’m not sure why Brents dropped off the depth chart. He played well at Kids Day. We can ask about that Tuesday at Kirk Ferentz’s press conference. It might be an injury.
-Health issues have caused guys to be in and out of the lineup at offensive guard. I would say those spots are fluid and we could see multiple players at those spots during the first few games.
-I’m wondering if Drew Cook beat out Shaun Beyer as the No. 2 tight end or if the latter has suffered another injury.
-I wouldn’t overreact to the changes at receiver. Iowa will utilize plenty of three-wideout sets with Ragaini and Tracy seeing the field plenty.
-There’s been speculation that true freshmen Tyler Goodson and/or Shadrick Byrd were gaining on Kelly-Martin for the No. 3 running back spot. It appears that hasn’t yet happened. Kelly-Martin looked really good at Kids Day.
-There weren’t any surprises on the defensive line. Ten guys were listed on the latest two deep, and you can probably expect to see at least those guys and Joe Evans early in the season.
-Though there weren’t any changes at linebacker, there’s still plenty of competition at the spot. That could be settled by play in the first couple of contests.
-The “or” remained at place kicker between Caleb Shudak and Keith Duncan. That might have be the closest position battle this month, and the coaches will let them duke it out at least one more week.