INPIYL2I Wonders What Iowa Needs Healthy Linebackers For Anyway

It's Not Plagiarism If You Link To It is BHGP's regular news roundup. Send all tips to any of the email addresses at the bottom of the page. But preferably not all of them at once. We usually end up laughing at people who do that.

Apparently AIRBHG has a sibling.  And he hates linebackers.  Coming into the season, linebacker was a position we had some trepidation about, as much for the uncertainty of two new starters as for the general lack of depth at the position.  The good news is that the former concern has largely faded away; they haven't made anyone forget about AJ Edds and Pat Angerer, but Tyler Nielsen emerged as a very capable starter at outside linebacker and, in his rare moments of health, Jeff Tarpinian has been solid at middle linebacker.  The latter concern has only become more significant throughout the season and never moreso than now, with the news that Tyler Nielsen is out for weeks (and likely the rest of the season) with a neck injury*.  Given that and the uncertain conditions of Jeff Tarpinian and Jeremiha Hunter, where's that leave the rest of the linebacker depth chart?  Good question:

"It could be Troy, it could be Tarp," Ferentz said. "Where’s that leave us? Yeah, it could be Troy or Tarp and Ross (Petersen). That’s about where we’re at, isn’t it?"

Petersen, a fifth-year senior from Durant, was listed on the depth chart as the second-team outside linebacker behind Nielsen. Ferentz said freshman Shane DiBona, who started last week at the other inside linebacker position, could be another option outside.

So... yeah.  Chaos reigns.  It's entirely possible that Iowa's starting linebackers on Saturday could be comprised of a true freshman (James Morris), a jack-of-all linebacker positions/master-of-none fifth-year senior (Troy Johnson), and either a redshirt freshman (Shane DiBona) or a fifth-year senior former walk-on (Ross Petersen).  Exciting!  On the other hand, it may not be quite that dire.  It sounds as though Tarpinian should be able to play more than he did against MSU (where he played only a few obvious passing downs) and Hunter may be healthy for Indiana.  But just to be safe, you might want to brush up on your back-ups so when #97 (Petersen), #37 (DiBona), and #50 (Lance Tillison) see the field (and they will), you're not left wondering "who dat?"

* The Gazoo reported that it was a broken vertebrae, which certainly sounds pretty damn bad both in terms of this year and the future.  Fortunately, Morehouse had a little better news on the future front this morning:

Good news on LB Tyler Nielsen. He has a fracture, but it should heal fine and he'll be able to resume his football career.

Stanzi for Heisman?  Turns out we were just ahead of the curve.  On the heels of yet another truly fine quarterbacking performance by the Manzi, Stanzi is starting to gain some actual traction in the discussion for the trophy awarded to the best quarterback or running back on the nation's best team the Heisman Trophy.  Rittenberg is touting him as one of the Big Ten's top candidates right now.  He's cracked the top ten of ESPN's Heisman Watch experts' poll.  He's slipped into the top ten of CNNSI's Heisman list.  He's even as high as 4th on ESPN Insider's Heisman Predictor ($).  Mind you, he's still persona non grata on SBN's own Heisman Watch List -- guess you can't win 'em all.  Still, this is a remarkable transformation for a quarterback who forced us to coin a handful of new terms -- "STANZIBALL!" and "Rick-Six" among them -- to describe his oft-errant passes.  Since wresting the starting job away from JC6 in 2008, Stanzi's always had the winner tag to hang his hat on; now he finally has the stats to back it up (135/197, 1922 yards, 19/2 TD/INT, 180.28 passer rating, 2nd nationally in pass efficiency).  Heisman or not, we'll happily settle for four more weeks of Stanzi performances like the ones we've seen over the last nine weeks.

At least we have the law on our side now.  Get ready for four years of law-related puns now that Iowa's added their 16th football recruit to this year's class, safety Nicholas Law out of Maryland.  Law (3* Rivals, 3* Scout, 77 ESPN) had a host of offers from BCS schools (including Cincinnati, Illinois, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Virginia, West Virginia, and OMHR) and has the measurements you'd want in a safety prospect -- 6'3", 195 lbs., fake 40-time of 4.4.  Considering that the options at safety beyond Greenwood and Sash are "gaping hole," "random walk-on," and "yawning void," we're just happy to see any new faces for that position going forward. 

NUGGETZ OF TRUTH

* FOTP storminspank provides a quick and handy breakdown of the Iowa hoopyball roster with the season looming.

* Iowa was named the Tostitos Team of the Week for their curbstomping of Michigan State last week.  Okay then.

* Mas Casa and Doc Saturday break down the Big Ten race with a month to go.

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