AJ Derby, welcome to the fishbowl. The race to backup the Mandenberg has been tight ever since spring, but now we appear to have a winner:
Kirk Ferentz said in his Big Ten teleconference call today that if the Hawkeyes were to play tomorrow, A.J. Derby would be the "next guy in the game" should starter James Vandenberg not be able to perform.
So if Vandenberg gets hurt (hopefully not) or Iowa is able to build a sufficient lead to sit the starters (hopefully so), we should get our first crack of A.J. Derby in live game action. At which point I guess we can all start pining for Rudock because Derby will have gone all lamestream on us.
And cheer up, John Weinke, you're a backup, too. Okay, backup punter.
Depth Chartin'. Your up-to-the-minute two-deeps for this weekend:
QB: James Vandenberg, A.J. Derby
RB: Marcus Coker, Jason White
FB: Matt Meyers / Jonathan Gimm
WR: Marvin McNutt, Steven Staggs
WR: Keenan Davis, Kevonte Martin-Manley
TE: Brad Herman, C.J. Fiedorowicz / Zach Derby
LT: Riley Reiff, Andrew Donnal
LG: Matt Tobin, Brandon Scherff
C: James Ferentz, Conor Boffeli
RG: Adam Gettis, Woody Orne
RT: Marcus Zusevics, Brett Van Sloten
DE: Lebron Daniel, Dominic Alvis / Joe Forgy
DT: Thomas Nardo / Dominic Alvis, Carl Davis
DT: Mike Daniels, Joe Gaglione
DE: Broderick Binns, Steve Bigach
OLB: Tyler Nielsen, Tom Donatell
MLB: James Morris, Bruce Davis
WLB: Christian Kirksey, Anthony Hitchens
CB: Shaun Prater, Jordan Bernstine
FS: Micah Hyde, Tanner Miller
SS: Collin Sleeper, Jordan Bernstine
CB: Greg Castillo, Micah Hyde
Notably absent from these two-deeps: any and all true freshmen. That isn't an indication that they won't play, though; far from it, in fact, as Ferentz expects 6-9 true freshmen to play, including potentially all three running backs. Based on buzz out of camp, the most likely bets to see the field are Mika'il McCall, Ray Hamilton, Torrey Campbell, Darian Cooper, Jacob Hillyer, Nico Law, Jordan Canzeri, and maybe Melvin Spears or Quinton Alston. Given the obvious needs at running back, in the defensive backfield, and along the defensive line, I'd be shocked if McCall, Campbell, and Cooper weren't on the field at some point Saturday. Tight end isn't a position of great need, but Hamilton has been drawing effusive praise thus far, so Cobra Kai will probably see the field, too.
As for anything else of note... Ferentz confirmed today that Tobin will start at left guard. Fullback is kind of a mess. Dominic Alvis is versatile. Ditto Jordan Bernstine. Bernstine still isn't officially listed as a starter, but it sounds like he'll get some run at strong safety on Saturday. He and Davis will also get first crack at kick return duties, while Hyde tries his hand at punt returns.
Injuries! Ferentz also updated various injuries:
* CB B.J. Lowery: broken wrist (out a month)
* OG Nolan MacMillan: sports hernia (out indefinitely)
* LB Dakota Getz: shoulder injury (out indefinitely)
* DT Carl Davis: leg injury (out one week)
* FB Brad Rogers: heart condition (out indefinitely)
Everyone else is apparently good to go for Tennessee Tech.
And, lo, there shall be a rotation. Ferentz is also still talking the talk about rotation on the defensive line:
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday he sees a rotation of six and maybe eight going into Saturday’s opener against Tennessee Tech. Binns and tackle Mike Daniels are the pegs. The idea for the rotation, Ferentz said, is to figure out who can do what and then, maybe, narrow that six to eight.
We'll see Saturday how well he walks the walk. Of course, he may have no choice since the options past Binns and Daniels range from "intriguing" to "mildly terrifying." Based on the depth chart (and comments in the presser), you can pencil in Daniel, Alvis, and Nardo as part of that rotation. As far as the other 1-3 spots, the most likely options are Gaglione, Bigach, Forgy, and Cooper. Fingers crossed that there are some pleasant surprises in that lot and maybe even a Karl Klug-esque breakout sensation.
Finally, let there be light (maybe). Per Bloodpunch, Iowa could maybe sorta one day add permanent lights to Kinnick.