Fans have begun to chirp. The itch is needed to be scratched. All that is left is the players, coaches and a sold-out Kinnick Stadium.
The 2011 Iowa football season is less than one week away and the first depth chart of the season was released on Friday. And there are several names on the list you may not have heard of.
There are some usual suspects like Marvin McNutt, Riley Reiff, James Morris, Tyler Nielsen, Shaun Prater, Broderick Binns, Mike Daniels and a few others. But the highlights of the depth chart can be seen in positions that are expected to welcome new starters this season.
Those changes are as follows:
— The offensive line is returning pretty much intact from last season, but an injury to sophomore Nolan MacMillan may open the door for redshirt freshman Brandon Scherff, who is listed with Matt Tobin as the starter at left guard. Scherff is a Denison, Iowa, native and is the largest player on the team at 6-foot-6, 310 pounds. He will be the next great offensive lineman to wear an Iowa uniform. But will next Saturday be his first career start?
— The rest of the offensive line looks like this: LT Riley Reiff, C James Ferentz, RG Adam Gettis, RT Markus Zusevics. Backups on the line include Iowa natives Connor Boffeli (West Des Moines Valley) and Brett Van Sloten (Decorah) as well as redshirt fresman Andrew Donnal.
— Marvin McNutt and Keenan Davis are the starting wide receivers. While Kevonte Martin-Manley was expected to get plenty of snaps as redshirt freshman backup, junior Steven Staggs is listed on the other side. That is a bit of a surprise to me as the Oskaloosa native works his way onto the depth chart.
— Backing up Marcus Coker at running back will Jason White, but I expect to see true freshman Mika’il McCall at some point in the game.
— Nothing has been settled at backup quarterback behind James Vandenberg, but redshirt freshman A.J. Derby was listed before junior John Weinke for the first time.
— As expected the three top tight ends will be senior Brad Herman, sophomore C.J. Fiedorowicz and junior Zach Derby. No surprise there, but true freshman Ray Hamilton will not redshirt this season.
— Perhaps the biggest surprise on the offensive side of the ball is at fullback where the starter listed is not Brad Rogers. Instead, unknown redshirt freshman Matt Meyers has taken over the top spot along with Jonathan Gimm — a converted tight end. My guess is that if Rogers is healthy and can play, he’ll be the guy, but I would then say Gimm is the next guy man in.
— The most secure positions on defense appear to be at linebacker where the starters listed are James Morris, Tyler Nielsen and Christian Kirksey. However, the backups should see plenty of snaps. Those three guys listed are Bruce Davis, Anthony Hitchens and converted safety Tom Donatell.
— The secondary starters listed are: CB Shaun Prater, CB Greg Castillo, SS Colin Sleeper and FS Micah Hyde. Jordan Bernstine is a backup at both CB and SS, while Hyde is listed as a backup CB and Tanner Miller is listed as the backup FS. A lot of Iowa fans are hoping Bernstine makes his way into a starting role. He has had a tough career with injuries and an injury-free senior season would be nice to see.
— Three starters have been listed on the defensive line: DE Broderick Binns, DE Lebron Daniel and DT Mike Daniels. The other DT position is wide open. The depth chart shows either Thomas Nardo or Dominic Alvis as the starter right now but Carl Davis also is expected to be in the mix. Backups on the defensive line depth chart include DE Joe Forgy, Alvis (at Daniel’s DE position), DE Steve Bigach and DT Joe Gaglione. Kirk Ferentz has said he could see 6-8 guys rotating in on the defensive line. So many of these guys could see the field even if they don’t end up starting.
— The early starters listed on the depth chart at kicker and punter are Mike Meyer and Eric Guthrie, respectively. Trent Mossbrucker is the backup kicker, John Weinke is the holder and Casey Kreiter is the long snapper.
The Hawkeyes opened as a 40-point favorite against Tennessee Tech next Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. So, that means this depth chart may not be a factor as several players should get into the game.
This game is not expected to be challenging but it could be fun to watch as several new faces make their way onto the field and into the depth charts.