As we're all no doubt aware, Iowa will open the season against Eastern Illinois without the services of Broderick Binns, who will be serving a one-game suspension for his OWI arrest this summer. During the fateful arrest, Binns wasn't actually doing anything wrong; his freakish cyborg arms were out the window and dragging on the ground, and the sparks drew the policeman's attention. True* story.
One look at the depth chart would seem to indicate that Binns will be replaced by Joe Forgy or Lebron Daniel, and there haven't been any reports out of camp that there's been a major position change on the defensive line.
And yet, defensive tackle Mike Daniels has been turning heads all throughout camp, including those of the unbiased-as-individual-teams-in-the-conference-go Big Ten Network crew last night. Daniels has even been nicknamed the "fifth starter," which would seem to indicate that Ferentz looks at his defensive line as a single unit of four linemen, not as four unique, specialized roles.
At the same time, though, nobody's actually reporting that Daniels is practicing at end yet, and while the term "5th starter" gets bandied about, "next man in"** doesn't seem to be making it to the press.
Complicating matters is the fact that there is another Hawkeye with experience at defensive end; it's just that his name is Christian Ballard, and Ballard's currently a biscuit or so over 3 bills. We can debate whether the novelty of Ballard (and his new gut) at DE would wear off before Binns was reinstated, but the point is that Ballard may not be sufficient at seal responsibility on the edge anymore.
So what do you think Ferentz will do here? Will he try to get his four best defensive linemen on the field, or is Daniels too suited for the inside to parlay his "fifth starter" status into an actual starting spot? And can you tell that we can't wait for football?
**"Next man in" sounds like an absolutely dynamite group drinking strategy on the weekends, by the way. Friend can't afford to hit the bar? Next man in. Dude can't take a shot at 12:45 because he has to be up for work in 6 hours? Next man in. Buddy's girlfriend's pissed that he passed out in bed before they could attempt to mate? NEXT MAN IN.