We've made it through the long, perilous off-season, folks -- there's an actual Iowa football game on the schedule and it's less than seven days away. On Saturday, Iowa will suit up and host South Dakota State to get the 2022 season underway. Huzzah!
There's a new depth chart out ahead of that game, although perhaps we should call it a "new" depth chart. The changes here are minimal and likely do not (entirely) reflect what we'll see at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday. But it's all we've got for the time being, so let's make do.
|POS||FIRST STRING||SECOND STRING||POS||FIRST STRING||SECOND STRING|
|QB||SPENCER PETRAS (Sr)||ALEX PADILLA (Jr)||DE||JOHN WAGGONER (Sr)||ETHAN HURKETT (So)|
|RB||GAVIN WILLIAMS (So)||LESHON WILLIAMS (So)||DT||NOAH SHANNON (Sr)||LUKAS VAN NESS So)|
|FB||MONTE POTTEBAUM (Sr)||TURNER PALLISSARD (Sr)||DT||LOGAN LEE (Jr)||YAHYA BLACK (So)|
|WR||KEAGAN JOHNSON (So)||ALEC WICK (RS Fr)||DE||JOE EVANS (Sr)||DEONTAE CRAIG (So)|
|WR||ARLAND BRUCE IV (So)||JACK JOHNSON (So)||LEO / CASH||JESTIN JACOBS (Jr)||COOPER DEJEAN (So)|
|TE||SAM LAPORTA (Sr)||LUKE LACHEY (So)||MLB||JACK CAMPBELL (Sr)||JAY HIGGINS (Jr)|
|LT||MASON RICHMAN (So)||JACK PLUMB (Sr)||WLB||SETH BENSON (Sr)||KYLER FISHER (Jr)|
|LG||TYLER ELSBURY (So)||MATT FAGAN (Sr)||LCB||TERRY ROBERTS (Sr)||COOPER DEJEAN (So)|
|C||LOGAN JONES (So)||MICHAEL MYSLINSKI (RS Fr)||FS||QUINN SCHULTE (Jr)||REGGIE BRACY (Jr)|
|RG||CONNOR COLBY (So)||BEAU STEPHENS (RS Fr)||SS||KAEVON MERRIWEATHER (Sr)||COOPER DEJEAN (So)|
|RT||JACK PLUMB (Sr)||NICK DEJONG (Jr)||RCB||RILEY MOSS (Sr)||BRANDON DEASFERNANDEZ (So)|
|LS||LUKE ELKIN (So)||LIAM REARDON (So)|
|K||AARON BLOM (So)||DREW STEVENS (Fr)||P||TORY TAYLOR (Jr)||NICK PHELPS (Sr)|
A few thoughts:
As expected, no changes in the backfield. Petras is your QB1, Padilla is your QB2, which is pretty much what it's been since the bowl game and all through the offseason. How long Petras' leash is remains to be seen, but here's guessing he doesn't have to worry too much about a quick hook. Gavin Williams being listed at RB1 is a little bit interesting, as he missed time during fall training camp to deal with some injuries; hopefully he's healthy and ready to go.
The only real change on offense is at WR, where Arland Bruce IV is now listed as the other starter opposite Keagan Johnson. He replaces Nico Ragaini, who picked up an injury during camp and is out this week. The good news is that he's only expected to be out a few weeks; Iowa's beleaguered and depth-poor receiver room can ill afford more absences. If you're scratching your head at the names listed behind Johnson and Bruce on the two-deeps, well, that's understandable. Alec Wick and Jack Johnson both joined the Iowa program as walk-ons (and are still walk-ons, to the best of our knowledge). Johnson, 6'0", 194 lbs, played high school ball at West Des Moines Valley, while Wick, 6'1", 196 lbs, played high school ball at Iowa City Regina. Neither has any game experience at Iowa. Iowa does have a few other options at wide receiver -- true freshman Jacob Bostick and redshirt freshman Brody Brecht -- but suffice to say, if Iowa goes four- and five-wide on Saturday, there will probably be a couple non-wide receivers in those sets.
No changes on paper to the OL starters, although the starting OL on Saturday may look different. Connor Colby is listed at RG here and started 11 games at that position last season, but he also spent a lot of time at RT during fall camp and could be the guy there. If he moves outside, then RG could be filled by Mike Myslinski, Beau Stephens, or Gennings Dunker. Dunker got all the starting RG reps during the Kids Day open practice and spent additional time there during fall camp.
Also no changes on paper to the DL starters, although Lukas Van Ness reportedly had an excellent fall camp and could be in line to start somewhere along the defensive line. If he doesn't start, don't expect him to be on the sideline very long after the game gets underway. True freshman Aaron Graves is also likely to see action as part of the DL rotation.
In fact, the only real change on defense is at CB, where Terry Roberts replaces Jermari Harris (suspended for the season opener) at left cornerback. Roberts has been a longtime special teams star and nickel corner for Iowa, but here's his chance to wedge himself into the starting lineup at cornerback. If he plays well versus the Jackrabbits, Harris may not walk back into the starting job there.
Also of note: Cooper DeJean is listed at both the CASH position and the backup (and nickel) cornerback behind Roberts. It's fair to say that the coaches seem determined to find ways to get him onto the field this year, which is an exciting prospect and one to watch keenly on Saturday.
The depth chart also lists Aaron Blom as the starting placekicker, though it was reported last week that true freshman Drew Stevens won the job during training camp. We'll see which one actually handles the placekicking duties for Iowa this week.
- One remaining depth chart mystery for gameday: the kick and punt returners. Charlie Jones ably manned those jobs for the last few seasons, but of course he's no longer an option there. Arland Bruce has been floated as a possibility, but given Iowa's incredibly precarious depth at receivers, will they really want to risk one of their only two semi-proven receivers getting hurt in the return game? Perhaps we see a backup running back or defensive back (let Cooper DeJean do everything) line up as the return man instead.
Thoughts? Concerns? Let's hear 'em.