The Iowa Hawkeyes suited up last weekend for their spring game, which was the last time fans will have a chance to see their Hawkeyes in action until next August.
This begs the question of what the depth chart will look like on August 31, when Iowa competes against the Northern Illinois Huskies.
The following will take a best guess at the opening day depth chart and especially what might change from the spring game depth chart (via Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette).
Asterisks (*) indicate a returning starter. The players' years of availability is indicated after their names.
QB: Jake Rudock (So.)/ C.J. Beathard (R.Fr.) OR Cody Sokol (Jr.)
RB: Mark Weisman* (Jr.) OR Jordan Canzeri (So.)/ Michael Malloy (R.Fr.)
FB: Mark Weisman* (Jr.)/ Adam Cox (So.)
WR1: Kevonte Martin-Manley* (Jr.)/ Jacob Hillyer (So.)
WR2: Tevaun Smith (So.)/ Jordan Cotton (Sr.)
WR3: Damond Powell (Jr.)/ Damon Bullock (Jr.) OR Cameron Wilson (R.Fr.)
TE1: C.J. Fiedorowicz* (Sr.)/ Jake Duzey (So.)
TE2: Ray Hamilton (Jr.)/ Henry Krieger-Coble (So.)
OT: Brandon Scherff* (Jr.)/ Andrew Donnal (Jr.)
OG: Conor Boffeli (Sr.)/ Eric Simmons (So.)
C: Austin Blythe* (So.)/ Eric Simmons (So.)
OG: Jordan Walsh (So.) OR Andrew Donnal (Jr.)/ Ryan Ward (R.Fr.)
OT: Brett Van Sloten* (Sr)/ Nolan MacMillan (Sr.)
DE: Dominic Alvis* (Sr.)/ Riley McMinn (So.)
DT: Louis Trinca-Pasat* (Jr.)/ Faith Ekakitie (R.Fr.)
DT: Carl Davis (Jr.)/ Darian Cooper (So.)
DE: Drew Ott (So.)/ Mike Hardy (Jr.) OR Faith Ekakitie (R.Fr.)
WLB: Anthony Hitchens* (Sr.)/ Travis Perry (So.)
MLB: James Morris* (Sr.)/ Quinton Alston (Jr.)
OLB: Christian Kirksey* (Sr.)/ Marcus Collins (Jr.)
CB: B.J. Lowery* (Sr.)/ Maurice Fleming (R.Fr.)
SS: Nico Law* (Jr.)/ John Lowdermilk (Jr.)
FS: Tanner Miller* (Sr.)/ Anthony Gair (R.Fr.)
CB: Jordan Lomax (So.)/ Sean Draper (So.)
PK: Mike Meyer* (Sr.)/ Marshall Koehn (So.)
P: Connor Kornbrath* (So.)/ Jonny Mullings (Jr.)
PR: Jordan Canzeri (So.)/ Jordan Cotton (Sr.)
KR: Jordan Cotton* (Sr.)/ Jordan Canzeri (So.)
Nonetheless, head coach Kirk Ferentz will keep the "OR" between his backups' names for sake of appearances.
That is unlikely to change when the team opens up summer camp. However, according to Ferentz via HawkeyeSports.com, "The quarterback battle will likely be made sometime in mid-August, and it won't carry over into the first game week."
Personally, I don't believe him. Rudock, who seems to be less prone to making big mistakes, will start the first game. Sokol, who seems to make bigger mistakes but is also more of a playmaker, will get some snaps.
Weisman will be on the field for the majority of offensive plays, but he will be at both tailback and fullback.
Canzeri will be at tailback whenever Weisman is at fullback, and he will also play in some one-back sets. Hopefully, the coaches find ways to get the ball into both of these players' hands.
Bullock will make the full-time move to wide receiver, but Ferentz could get creative and motion him all over the field. One can only hope.
In 2013, Iowa will go more multiple on offense than it has at any point under Ferentz. In effect, the fullback, third wide receiver and second tight end will all be starters, and there will be a lot of moving parts. Martin-Manley will line up as the X receiver. Smith will be the field stretcher at Z and JUCO transfer Damond Powell will start in the slot.
Moreover, expect a lot of receivers beyond the two-deep, including true freshmen, to see playing time this year.
At what is arguably the Hawks' deepest position, Fiedorowicz will gear up for his final season as the starting tight end. Hamilton will be No. 2. It would be great for the Hawks to use Stanford-like three-tight sets—with Duzey as the third tight end—especially around the end zone, but confidence isn't high that it will happen.
Iowa will rotate six to seven offensive linemen, as it has done for the last few years. The tackles are set in stone, Bofelli will lock down left guard and Blythe is the center. Look for Donnal, Ward and Walsh to all get snaps at right guard.
Donnal will move outside if either tackle goes down.
On defense, Davis, Trinca-Pasat, Alvis and Hardy will start, but Cooper will get as much playing time as any starter. Hardy, Ekakitie and McMinn will also see a substantial amount of playing time. Redshirt freshman Jaleel Johnson will see time in goal-line sets.
This is a big year for the linebackers. This is their legacy.
In 2012, defensive coordinator Phil Parker substituted a lot more defensive backs than Norm Parker, his predecessor. Look for that to continue.
As previously mentioned, whoever starts opposite Lowery will get picked on. Hopefully, safety play is vastly improved from last year, as that will minimize any issues the inexperienced new cornerback has.
It's difficult to say what was going on with the punting game at the spring game. Kornbrath, last year's starter, was absent, and his absence was never addressed by Ferentz. Given that there has been no talk of the West Virginian transferring or having academic issues, one has to assume he was sick or had a minor injury.
Finally, it is exciting to think what Canzeri can do on returns.
If he does stay atop the depth chart, it will be the first time Ferentz has employed a running back as the punt returner.
It is a bit dangerous for him, as a receiver—being used to operating in a crowd—is logically more trustworthy catching the ball in traffic. Historically, a receiver has been Ferentz's pick to return punts.
It's good to see Ferentz taking a bit of a gamble, and maybe it's a sign of the notoriously conservative head coach moving away from his safety zone.
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