Iowa Football: Analyzing Hawkeyes' Updated 2012 Preseason Depth Chart

David Fidler Correspondent IAugust 6, 2012

LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 25: Iowa Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz applauds his team's performance early against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during their game at Memorial Stadium November 25, 2011 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Iowa 20-7. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

With the beginning of fall camp, the Hawkeyes released an updated—post-De'Andre Johnson dismissal (per ESPN)—depth chart.

Things are going to change between now and the Sept. 1 Chicago matchup against Northern Illinois. Knowing Kirk Ferentz, the offensive line will change 10 times between now and the beginning of the season.

Nevertheless, the updated depth chart does offer some insight into what is going on behind the closed doors of Fort Kinnick.

Firstly, the quarterback situation hasn't changed. James Vandenberg is the starter and, barring a hunting or, at this time of year, fishing accident that damages his right arm, will remain so through the season.

His backup is red-shirt freshman Jake Rudock or JUCO-transfer Cody Sokol. This is how it's been since spring and will remain until one of them takes the field, most likely in garbage time.

Meanwhile, the running back has undergone some changes. The starter is true sophomore Damon Bullock or junior Brad Rogers, who Hawkeye fans know better as Iowa's starting fullback.

Obviously, Johnson's dismissal played a part in this move. On the other hand, if this were strictly prompted by the lack of an experienced tailback, Rogers would be the top backup. Instead, he is the co-starter.

Reading into this, it is possible that Bullock is having trouble picking up his blocking assignments. Conversely, Rogers is an outstanding blocker.

Whether Rogers does get time as the featured back or not, as detailed previously, he will get considerably more touches in new offensive coordinator Greg Davis' offense than any Iowa fullback since Jeremy Allen.

Bullock's/Rogers' backups are true freshmen Greg Garmon or Barkley Hill.

With Akeel Hill's recent tweet that he will stay in Happy Valley—

I will be wearing #22 in Blue&White jersey come Sept. 1st #WeStillAre #PennState #Sorryforthewait

— Akeel Lynch (@ALynch_22) August 4, 2012

—that is the beginning of end of Iowa scholarship backs.

Rogers is, as expected, the starting fullback, with senior Jonathan Gimm or sophomore walk-on and Air Force transfer Mark Weisman—a new name—backing him up.

The receivers haven't changed. Keenan Davis is the starting split end, with Don Shumpert backing him up. Kevonte Martin-Manley will start at receiver with senior Steven Staggs behind him.

The real question is which receiver—Shumpert, Staggs or one of the other backups—comes onto the field if Iowa goes three-wide, and we won't know the answer to that until the first game.

Junior C.J. Fiedorowicz is the starting tight end, but there does appear to be a battle for the No. 2 tight end, which, in Iowa's offense, gets as much playing time as many starters.

Currently, senior Zach Derby, who has starting experience, is listed as the No. 2, along with true sophomore Ray Hamilton.

This is exciting for Iowa fans, as Derby can be a solid second tight end, but Hamilton has considerably more talent. If Hamilton can prove he belongs on the field, the Hawks might have the most dangerous tight end pairing they've had under Ferentz.

The offensive line is almost the same as it was at the close of spring. The starters are (from left to right): Brandon Scherff, Matt Tobin, James Ferentz, Austin Blythe or Conor Boffeli and Brett Van Sloten.

The "or" between Blythe and Boffeli is new, but hardly surprising, as Boffeli, a junior, has been on the depth chart for two years.

As for the backups, the line reads (from left to right): Andrew Donnal, Drew Clark, Tommy Gaul, Jordan Walsh and Nolan MacMillan.

The only notable omission is sophomore JUCO-transfer Eric Simmons, who ended spring as a backup center and guard. There has been no word on any injury, so it's possible the coaches are considering a redshirt for him.

On defense, seniors Steve Bigach and Joe Gaglione are competing for the starting strong-side end. They are backed up by 6'7", 245 pound—i.e. string bean—redshirt freshman Riley McMinn.

The weak-side end is junior Dominic Alvis, who is coming off an ACL tear. His backup is 6'2", 255-pound redshirt freshman Melvin Spears.

Inside, the starting three-technique defensive tackle is Louis Trinca-Pasat, who, according to Kirk Ferentz (via The Cedar Rapids Gazette), was the spring's biggest success story.

He is backed up by 6'2", 240-pound—i.e. too undersized to see the field—red-shirt freshman Dean Tsopanides.

The one-technique defensive tackle is listed as sophomore Carl Davis or red-shirt freshman Darian Cooper.

Davis missed spring with injuries, but at 6'5", 310 pounds, has size that Iowa fans have rarely seen in their defensive linemen. Cooper weighs in at 6'2", 280 pounds, so he is also no slouch. This will be the most interesting, and important, position battle this August.

Sophomore Mike Hardy is the backup.

The linebackers haven't changed at all since spring. James Morris is in the middle, Anthony Hitchens is on the weak side and Christian Kirksey is outside.

Sophomore Quinton Alston is the backup middle, with red-shirt freshmen Cole Fisher and Travis Perry backing up the weak side and outside, respectively.

This is unlikely to change over the course of camp and the season, but the health of the starting three is imperative, as the backups, outside of Alston, are as green as green could be.

The starting cornerbacks are senior Micah Hyde and junior B.J. Lowery. Backing them up is senior Greg Castillo and red-shirt freshman Torrey Campbell.

Campbell takes the place of Jordan Lomax, who suffered a shoulder injury (per Hawkeyenation) and will miss the season.

Sophomore Nico Law is the starting strong safety. His backups are Tom Donatell or Collin Sleeper, both seniors.

Tanner Miller is the free safety, and he is backed up by true sophomore John Lowdermilk.

Mike Meyer is the place kicker, while punter is John Wienke or Jonny Mullings, with true freshman Connor Kornbrath as the backup. Look for Kornbrath to pass both the former quarterback and the Australian transplant as the summer wears on.


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