In the hour preceding tipoff at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, word began buzzing about an incoming press release from the Iowa football program. Virtually nothing was off the table in terms of what Iowa could announce, and early-evening missives are rarely good news, so you can understand the anticipation.
Instead, the football team... released an official depth chart, complete with a statement from Kirk Ferentz. On January 8. Six days after the season ended. That really happened.
The full depth chart is here (.PDF warning, although c'mon, it's 2015), but a few highlights are as follows:
QB: C.J. Beathard over Jake Rudock; no "OR"
HB: Jordan Canzeri over LeShun Daniels
OT: Walk-on Boone Myers starting at LT, Ike Boettger at RT
LB: Josey Jewell at MLB, Bo Bower and Ben Niemann at OLB
SS: Miles Taylor over Brandon Snyder
A few more quick thoughts:
- First of all, we can officially put to bed any notion that Ferentz is even thinking about stepping away. A coach who's even remotely unsure about his future doesn't put out a depth chart a week after the season ends; he's already setting the stage for the 2015 season.
- In terms of any assistants, though, I don't think there are any tea leaves to be read here, unless you think Greg Davis is a "Rudock guy" or a "Beathard guy." The evidence hasn't really borne that out over the 2014 season, though. No reason to think any assistant's job status is any more—or less—up in the air than it was 24 hours ago.
- If this depth chart is legit and not lip service for Beathard (which has, historically, not been a Kirk Ferentz move), Rudock should be upset. More upset than Beathard should have been entering bowl prep when his dad was grousing to The Tennesseean. Rudock's still over .500 as a starter with a 130.0 passer rating. He improved on every meaningful passing metric from 2013. He threw only five interceptions on the year. He was, when healthy, the starter all dang season, and has never made so much as an ill peep to the press (and, ahem, neither has his family). Then he gets benched 1) on national television 2) in his home state 3) for the Allman Son 4) for the second straight bowl game? Yeah. If Rudock's a competitor at heart—and you generally don't get this far without being one—he should already be making some calls right about now.
- That's not to say that Beathard isn't the better quarterback, mind you, or that Ferentz is making the wrong decision. But Rudock can't be happy right now.
- Akrum Wadley and Jonathan Parker have some work to do to get back on the depth chart. Thankfully for them, Daniels hasn't proven himself to be a "gosh, how do you work your way past this guy?" type of player yet.
- There 21 seniors and 13 juniors listed overall, including 11 senior starters. That's an old team. And yet... how many of these seniors are you really feeling good about? Tevaun Smith, sure. Austin Blythe, definitely. Macon Plewa has been a net positive at FB, and having Drew Ott back at DE feels good. But it gets kind of dicey after that. Jordan Lomax is fine at safety... but not much more than fine. Not a whole lot of confidence to be had as a whole.
- Let's put it this way: how many of those seniors strike you as potential All-Big Ten players? Or 2016 NFL draft picks?
- On the flipside, five guys who redshirted in 2014 are already on the two-deeps... and only one is a skill-position player: Snyder at SS. The rest are linemen, which is somewhat concerning; typically, the line is much more development-centric and the place where your physical skills straight out of high school matter the least.