Week 0 of the college football season is already behind us and we’re now officially in game week for the Iowa Hawkeyes. In a typical week during the season, that would mean a Monday afternoon depth chart for Hawkeye fans to examine. Week 1 is a bit different, however, as the Hawkeyes released their depth chart on Friday afternoon while Iowa fans were gearing up for the weekend.
In case you missed it, here’s a look at what was released late last week.
- Jack Plumb is the starter at LT with Mason Richman his backup.
- Justin Britt is the starter at RG with Josh Volk breaking the depth chart as his backup.
- Jack Campbell has moved to MLB from WLB with Seth Benson flipping back to WLB from MLB.
- No other changes from the preseason depth chart released earlier this summer.
What it Means for Iowa Week 1 vs. Indiana
The OL Needs to Prove Itself
The expectation in 2021 is for the Hawkeyes to be effective in establishing the run to set up the pass. When you have an All-American center leading the way in Tyler Linderbaum, that’s a solid starting point. But the injury to Kyler Schott (a hay bail injury, no less!) means the Hawkeyes are breaking in a new starter at RG. RS sophomore Justin Britt isn’t totally unproven as he nearly took the job as a true freshman, but he has battled injury his entire career and has appeared in only eight games at Iowa. He enters week one still coming back from a fall camp injury that had him in a walking boot in recent camp photos.
On the outside, it appears Jack Plumb has fended off a run from RS freshman Mason Richman to win the starting LT job. Plumb saw time in 2020 on the right side of the line but now has big shoes to fill for the departed Alaric Jackson. He’s mirrored on the right side by former walk-on sophomore Nick DeJong. The bottom line here is Iowa is largely unproven on the offensive line outside of Linderbaum and Cody Ince. There’s talent and potential there, but they have a lot to prove.
Indiana’s defense lost All-Big Ten DL Jerome Johnson to the NFL, but they added Ole Miss grad transfer Ryder Anderson and Northern Illinois grad transfer Weston Kramer to a bunch that already included seven juniors and seniors. How Iowa’s youth holds up to Indiana’s experience will be a big question on Saturday.
Linebacker is a Strength
While the flip of Jack Campbell and Seth Benson is somewhat interesting, it wasn’t all that unexpected. Campbell is shaping up to be a star in the Big Ten and a future NFL draft pick and he seems a natural fit in the middle of Phil Parker’s defense. Benson is no slouch himself, but he may find himself in a dog fight for snaps.
We’ve seen the steady migration to more of a 4-2-5 look from Parker over the years with Dane Belton manning the minutes at Cash. What has been interesting heading into week 1 are the rumors that sophomore Jestin Jacobs is starting to get the reps at WLB when Iowa goes to the Cash.
Jacobs oozes athleticism and potential, part of why he was rated a 4-star prospect and earned an offer from his home state school OSU. But he’s also better suited than Benson to play in coverage. It’s a great problem to have when last year’s starting MLB may have difficulty earning minutes because the talent around him continues to get better.
No News is Good News
The last thing to note here is just the lack of changes. In a game as full of contact as football, only seeing a couple of minor changes heading into game week is a major positive. This group has been working for months now toward the start of the 2021 season and nothing can take the wind out of the sales quite like a major injury right before we see the fruits of that labor.
There will surely be injuries and other shake ups as the season progresses, but for now the status quo is a good thing in Iowa City.