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Big Ten Bloggers Roundtable: Spring Football, Part 1

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Before the true offseason begins, we're getting the band back together.  

Questions courtesy of the 2008 recipient of the CFB Best Big Ten Blog award Black Shoe Diaries.  Part 2 to come tomorrow.

I love spring. Flowers blooming. Birds chirping. Bones breaking. ACL’s tearing. List the injuries your team sustained and describe their impact on 2008.

Actually, Iowa got through spring without any significant injuries.  Guard Brian Bulaga missed the entirety of spring practice, but is expected to be fine for fall.  Same goes for defensive back Jordan Bernstine.  Quite a few players who were injured last year weren't playing (most notably Tony Moeaki) and more were held out of the spring game to avoid the Sean Lee Experience (such as both Mitch King and Matt Kroul).  Nevertheless, it was a surprisingly healthy spring for a program whose players couldn't walk out of the tunnel without pulling a groin last season.

Break down the major position battles going on with your offense.

Oh, where do we begin?

Depending on who you're reading, the quarterback battle is either a dead heat between returning starter Jake Christiansen and 80's detective sidekick Ricky Stanzi or not a competition at all.  Ferentz did nothing to quiet the debate when, after two lackluster series in the spring game, Christiansen was yanked in favor of the youngster.  In the end, neither looked particularly spectacular this weekend, but there doesn't appear to be anyone else quite ready for prime time.  Christiansen will start the season opener, but I wouldn't be shocked if Stanzi passes him by sometime in October.

Running back is not much different.  Walk-on Paki O'Meara started the spring game, but had trouble gaining much of anything behind a patchwork offensive line.  Nate Guillory, who received a scholarship offer sight unseen, after the coaches saw his highlight video, apparently has difficulty with blocking due to his inexperience and small stature.  Shonn Greene, who would be the only running back with a Big Ten carry if he makes it back to school in the fall, loves him some television.  Two true freshmen, Jeff Brinson and Jewel Hampton, will be given a shot but could have some of the same blocking issues Guillory is experiencing.  In other words, nobody has a damn clue what is going on.

Last year, the offensive line was certainly that.  The only player on that line who started every game at the same position was center Rafael Eubanks, who finished as an honorable mention all-conference selection.


Equally proficient with a chop block, a guitar, or a kitana blade, Rafael Eubanks is a true Renaissance man

So, with so many potential position battles on the offensive line, the most competitive is...center?  Yes, it is true.  Mutant aardvark Rob Bruggeman returned from injury, started the spring game, and looks like the odds-on favorite to start this season at the top of the depth chart.  The BHGP staff believes he's eventually destined to play guard, but it's far from certain.

We're not even mentioning potential battles at wide receiver, left guard, and both tackle positions.  The entire offense is up for grabs this season.

You knew this was coming. Break down the major position battles on defense.

The defense is far more certain.  Six of the defensive top seven appear certain, especially given the coaching staff's emphasis on rotating defensive players and promoting depth.  The only potential battle between Pat Angerer and Jacody Coleman at middle linebacker.  Coleman, a sophomore, entered the spring as the starter, but Angerer - a junior coming off a season where he struggled with a shoulder injury, hamstring injury, mono, ebola, tetanus, smallpox, pinta, and dissociative identity disorder - started with the first team and looked impressive in the spring game.  Given Ferentz and Parker's preference for upperclassmen, he'll likely start.

Senior Bradley Fletcher has won the right to be torched by every team's #1 wide out.  The other corner will be either incoming transfer Amari Spivey or the aforementioned Bernstine.  Neither played in the spring, which is always a good sign for your secondary.