The Iowa Hawkeyes played with fire once again on Black Friday and once again they managed not to get burned. The Hawkeyes emerged victorious in a 13-10 bout with the Nebraska Cornhuskers to finish the season at 10-2 overall.
It was a familiar sight on Friday as the offense started off looking respectable, then went back into the shell of an offense we’ve seen for most of the season. The defense did its thing for all but essentially one play and for the 11th time this season held an opponent under 20 points on the day.
Ultimately, we saw defensive end Ethan Hurkett bail out Deacon Hill and the Iowa offense with an interception that helped give Iowa a chance after staring down the barrel of the other end of a walk-off kick. Leshon Williams did the rest to get Iowa into position and then.... Iowa called on a backup grad transfer kicker to step in for his first kick as a Hawkeye and he drilled it.
That, as well as the loss of a couple more key pieces during the game, raises some questions about the depth chart as the Hawkeyes head to Indianapolis for their second Big Ten Championship Game in three seasons.
On Monday, the Hawkeyes released their depth chart for this week’s showdown with Michigan and Iowa fans may have some answers.
- Let’s start at the bottom and work backwards for once, shall we? Kicker Drew Stevens may have a case of the yips, but he’s still listed as your starting kicker this week. Stevens has had three kicks blocked in the last two games while missing another and sending two kickoffs out of bounds. That’s... not good. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Marshall Meeder stepped in on Black Friday and proved the moment was not too big for him. But Stevens has a track record of being a good kicker with NFL distance. Perhaps the show of confidence from LeVar Woods and Kirk Ferentz is just what Stevens needs to get his head right?
- The other big ones here are on offense. At WR, we saw Kaleb Brown leave Friday’s game after starting the day with three catches for 21 yards to go with a pair of carries for 13 yards. We’ve also been waiting for Diante Vines to come back from an injury for several weeks. As of Monday, there is apparently no change in that status and Brown is presumably good to go for Saturday. Just as likely, this thing simply isn’t updated for reality. There are rumors Brown will be good to go for Saturday, but also rumors that Vines may be back as well. That would be a welcome bit of good news.
- Speaking of good news, Gennings Dunker was another Hawkeye who was dinged up on Friday. He’s still listed here as your starter at right tackle so here’s hoping he and the rest of the OL are healthy for Saturday. Iowa is going to need them all.
- One place where we don’t see a healthy name is at center. Tyler Elsbury is still listed as your starter this week, though as with Vines, there have been rumors that Logan Jones is likely to be ready this week. It will be interesting see if the staff goes back to Jones if healthy or if they stick with the chemistry that has been working the last couple weeks with Elsbury at center.
- One last one to note this week is at tight end. Similar story here that is worth watching as the week progresses. Luke Lachey is now on week ten since his injury and the thought all along was that he might be able to sneak back in time for this week if Iowa made it. He’s not listed on the depth chart but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a shot. Keep an eye out for any news later this week on Lachey, as well as that availability report on game day.
That’s really it for this week with no changes on the defensive side of the ball. We’ll get some more color from Kirk Ferentz at his Tuesday press availability.
Iowa and Michigan are set to square off in the Big Ten Championship Game from Indianapolis on Saturday evening. Kick off is set for 7pm CT on FOX.