While the fanbase is heavily focused on the ongoing search for Brian Ferentz’s replacement at offensive coordinator, we are now less than two weeks away from Iowa’s bowl matchup with Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl. It’s a matchup that has largely become an afterthought between the diminished value of bowl games in general and the ever changing world of college football.
For Tennessee, that has meant a number of players opting out of the bowl game or entering the transfer portal. It’s also meant an influx of a dozen players from the portal who are now reportedly participating in practice ahead of the January 1st bowl game. Note that while those portal additions are permitted to practice, they are not permitted to participate in the bowl game, further underscoring the diminished value of this matchup.
With that diminished value, it might be logical to think the Hawkeyes too would use the weeks of extra practice to prepare for the future. It might make sense, for example, to see what you have on the roster behind Deacon Hill as you turn toward next year.
On Tuesday, the Hawkeyes released the official depth chart for the Citrus Bowl. Let’s take a look to see if the staff is thinking that way.
- Let’s just start with the obvious: Deacon Hill is your starter and will be until Cade McNamara is back and fully healthy. It seems Kirk is determined to ensure that not only does nobody who is not the starter ever gets a meaningful snap, but also to ensure the worst QB room in the country has no shot at developing.
- Beyond the QB situation, perhaps the biggest, most notable thing here is the change at center. We saw starter Logan Jones miss time earlier this year with Tyler Elsbury stepping in and performing well. Elsbury not only looked good, but is reportedly an expert at getting the line calls. His return to the starting role should be seamless.
- Outside of Jones/Elsbury, there is no real change to the starting rotation on offense or defense. But we do see those who were on the depth chart that have entered the transfer portal officially gone here. Most notably here that’s Diante Vines, who had really fallen behind Kaleb Brown late in the year after his injury.
- Saving the worst for last, there are two very key names notably missing here who aren’t portal entrants. TE Luke Lachey and CB Cooper DeJean have both missed a number of weeks due to injury but were looking at recovery timelines that left the door open to a bowl game appearance. Neither are on the depth chart and it seems neither are poised to play one last game in the black and gold.
The Hawkeyes are set to face off with the Tennessee Volunteers in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day. Kick off is set for noon central. The game will be broadcast nationally on ABC.