Wanna Have Some Fun? Let's Try and Predict the Two-Deeps for 2012!
Okay, post Minnesota day one. I want to write about that disaster, I do. I will, just not today.
How about this? Let's take a look at next year's roster and try to predict the two-deeps. Sure, it's a long ways away and there will be a lot of changes between here-and-there but why not try to find something to hang our hat on? Or not...
QB- James Vandenberg / John Wienke
Certainly you'd like to see Jake Rudock break into there but don't count on it. Jake might be the QB off the bench in a blowout but the two-deeps given to the media will include both seniors.
RB - Marcus Coker / Mika'il McCall
McCall is Iowa's number two guy right now, when healthy. Does senior Jason White get the number two spot? If he does you have to assume there will be questions. White realistically should be Iowa's fourth or fifth option off the bench. Bullock was back with the WR's Saturday and Canzeri might add some weight to get a shot. Then there's always the AIRBHG to contend with.
SE (WR) - Don Shumpert / Steven Staggs
Neither of these two have shown anything that indicates they will be able to fill departed senior Marvin McNutt's shoes. Shumpert began the year on the kickoff team and was consistently blown up trying to get through blocks. He needs some time at the training table to pack on some muscle. Staggs, meh. This could be a spot for Kevonte Martin-Manley or Marcus Grant/Jacob Hillyer to break into the lineup.
WR - Keenan Davis / Kevonte Martin-Manley
I have to think one of these two moves to the other starting position. By experience and previous playing time these are your two best options at the WR position. Jordan Cotton or one of the two current freshman previously listed could find their name here too.
FB - Brad Rogers / Jonathan Gimm
Thankfully Rogers has been able to return to action and continue his playing career. He's still showing signs of the long lay off but after a year to get his conditioning back he'll be a nice option for the Hawks. Gimm will be a senior and get the nod but sophomore Mark Weisman could be in the mix too.
TE - Zach Derby / CJ Fiedorowicz
Derby is the current starter and there's no reason to believe he loses that spot now. If CJ can have a big Spring he may earn the trust of the coaches and get the nod. They'll both play in Iowa's two TE sets. Ray Hamilton got his feet wet but has since disappeared this season. Both he and Henry Krieger-Coble will compete for playing time at this position.
LT - Brandon Scherff / Andrew Donnal
Scherff was the first guy in to replace Riley Reiff when he was out for a brief stint against Indiana. For the sake of this two-deep I'll assume takes the NFL money, not matter how high his draft stock is. Donnal may be the future LT but I think he still needs time to develop. Either of these two may end up somewhere else along the line.
LG - Matt Tobin / Jordan Walsh
Tobin has been the starter at LG all season (up until the Minnesota game). He'll enter his senior season as the starter unless Walsh or Austin Blythe beats him out. Walsh could be a center too, perhaps he and Connor Boffeli switch spots here.
C - James Ferentz / Connor Boffeli
Same as 2011. Don't see a change unless Boffeli finds a spot at guard. Drew Clark could slide into the second spot if Bofelli plays G.
RG - Austin Blythe / Dan Heiar
Blythe has made the travel squad this year and Twitter rumors have had him already working with the current second team. It might be a stretch to predict the red shirt freshman gets the opening day start but I'm willing to bet he finds his name there at some point next season. Dan Heiar will have had a year to recover from his injury and will probably not get in the two-deeps the first few games. He will still have a suspension to serve for the OWI that he received after his accident.
RT- Nolan MacMillan \ Brett Van Sloten
These two can easily be reversed. Van Sloten has been the backup at RT for two seasons now. MacMillan may miss the entire year with a sports hernia. His career has been full of injuries but a healthy MacMillan is one of Iowa's best offensive lineman.
DE - Dominic Alvis / Marcus Spears
Spears probably won't get listed within the two-deeps right away but I'd wager he sees the field next year. Spears arrived at Iowa as a LB but was spotted working with the third team DL in Fall camp. If he adds the weight he could anchor Iowa's DL for a few years.
DT - Steve Bigach / Carl Davis
People have been waiting for Carl Davis to break out since his arrival on campus. He brings something we don't see much in Iowa recruiting, size at the DT position. I'm afraid that's all he brings to the table, size. He hasn't shown much ability in the short stints on the field. He still has time to figure it out, let's hope he does before the Hawks kickoff in 2012.
DT - Joe Gaglione / Darian Cooper
Gaglione will get the nod due to his seniority. Hopefully Darian Cooper can play well enough he earns some time inside next season. The other potential guys here are Mike Hardy and Louis Trinca-Pasat. This is a gaping hole and the Hawks need JUCO in a bad way.
DE - Joe Forgy / Louis Trinca-Pasat
Again, Forgy gets the spot due to seniority. Trinca-Pasat is probably still a year away as he needs to get bigger. Maybe current freshman (red shirting) Riley McMinn can break in here somewhere. Like the DT's Iowa needs help here and in a big way.
OLB- Anthony Hitchens / Dakota Getz
These are all just guesses. Getz will be a year away from an ACL injury that cost him his 2011 season. How he recovers will be any one's guess. I could see John Lowdermilk getting in the mix here too. Maybe Dibona/Getz/Lowdermilk. ** I'm using the asterik to note an edit. Originally, I forgot about AJ Derby. I think Derby is an excellent candidate to replace Tyler Nielsen. He's not as quick so he's better suited for covering the tight end. If the Hawks can get that 6th win this year and the bowl prep Derby might be in the two-deeps at OLB next Fall.
MLB - James Morris / Quinton Alston
I'm still not sold on Morris being best suited for MLB but he should only be a red shirt freshman getting mop up time tight now. Let's be real, Morris is a fine player but he really could have used that red shirt season to add the size needed to play MLB in the Big Ten. Alston lost his red shirt this year but has played sparingly.
OLB - Christian Kirksey / Shane Dibona
Kirksey is a pretty decent player for Iowa but like Morris was thrown in the fire without the luxury of adding weight in a red shirt season. Where Dibona and even Poggi end up after they recover from injury is any body's guess. DiBona's Achilles injury is a tough one to fully recover from, just ask Northwestern's Dan Persa.
FS - Tanner Miller / Jack Swanson
Miller has the position on lock down and Swanson will get the two-deep nod because he will be a senior (if he returns).
SS - Collin Sleeper / Nico Law
Sleeper got the start for Iowa on opening day and against Iowa State. After Jordan Bernstine emerged we haven't seen much of him since. Hopefully Law can grasp the playbook and become a leader on the field. He's shined on the kickoff team and proves each week he can be physical at this level.
CB - Micah Hyde / Greg Castillo
If Hyde returns for his senior season he'll get a lot of press and be Iowa's best player on defense. Castillo will enter his senior season as a backup and play some nickle and dime packages. Freshman Torrey Campbell and Jordan Lomax might sneak into the mix here.
CB - BJ Lowery / Jordan Lomax
Iowa gave Lowery some reps this year after he returned from a broken wrist. He replaced Shaun Prater for a series against Indiana and I think the coaches look at Lowery as their third best option at DB. Lomax, like Nico Law, has shined on the kickoff team and could push for playing time in the Hawkeye secondary next fall.
K - Meyer
Lets hope Iowa's verbal commit Connor Kornbrath can put the ball in the end zone on kickoffs. If he can he'll get those duties while Meyer handles field goals and extra points. Kornbrath may step in and be Iowa's punter next year too.
I'm a little reluctant to include verbal commits because they haven't signed anything yet. Kornbrath could still change his mind and let's hope he doesn't. Iowa has a decent DL recruit but so was Darian Cooper and he couldn't break the two-deeps in 2011.
Welp, there it is. A waaaay too early look. We've seen almost all of these guys in action. They'll improve but there still are some question marks and holes to fill. Obviously, the defensive line is the most glaring problem. Iowa has a few months until signing day and we'll see if they try to figure it out.
What do you think, I wrote this to generate discussion. LMK in the comment box or hit me on the Twitter.