IOWA CITY, Iowa — Two days after injuries forced Iowa to insert a pair of young starters in its offensive line, Iowa should be up to full strength for the Big Ten opener at Rutgers.
Here are five observations from Iowa’s newly released depth chart:
Daniels is back
Sophomore center James Daniels missed Iowa’s last two games with a knee injury late in practice on Sept. 7. He dressed out against North Dakota State on Saturday, but Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz elected not to play him. Sophomore Lucas LeGrand replaced Daniels at center the last two games. Daniels has the most upside of any lineman and the team really missed his pulling ability in the running game.
So is Welsh
Sean Welsh’s absence was sorely missed last week against the Bison. Welsh, a junior right guard, is Iowa’s best offensive lineman. He left the Hawkeyes’ game in the second half against Iowa State on Sept. 10 and was unable to practice last week. Welsh had started all 14 games in 2015 and had 10 starts as a freshman in 2014. Sophomore Keegan Render replaced Welsh and had a decent game against North Dakota State.
Receivers stay the same
Iowa’s 11 personnel grouping (three wide receivers) featured Jerminic Smith, Matt VandeBerg and Jay Scheel. Its two-receiver sets featured Riley McCarron and either Smith or VandeBerg. The Hawkeyes’ depth chart still lists Smith, VandeBerg and McCarron as the starters. This is hardly surprising. Iowa rarely moves players around on the depth chart unless they are injured or clearly beaten out. Scheel was on the field for more action than in Week 2, while McCarron still saw plenty of plays on Saturday. McCarron scored Iowa’s first touchdown out of the 12 (two tight ends, two receivers) grouping, so he technically didn’t lose his spot. But Scheel was primarily the third receiver in the 11 grouping.
No change at weakside linebacker
Starting weakside linebacker Bo Bower combined for 11 tackles, including two solo stops, but appeared out of position on several plays late in the Hawkeyes’ loss to North Dakota State. Bower leaped past Aaron Mends in August practice but Mends didn’t see any defensive action on Saturday. Mends remains alongside true freshman Amani Jones behind Bower on the depth chart. Again, if Iowa plans to make a change, it’s something they’ll announce on game day, not on Monday.
Backup quarterback still a slash
Whether it’s a nod to sophomore Tyler Wiegers’ perseverance (or that they want him to stick with the team after the season), Iowa still lists him as a second-team quarterback alongside true freshman Nathan Stanley. When senior starter C.J. Beathard injured his left shoulder in the third quarter, Stanley stepped in for Beathard and completed both pass attempts before Beathard returned. Stanley has played in all three games, while Wiegers has yet to play. It’s obvious Stanley is the No. 2 quarterback, so in this spot the depth chart appears ceremonial.