Iowa Football

Iowa football Depth Chart Monday: The defense is going to need some Spackle

Injuries have left some cracks in Iowa's defense; we'll have to wait and see on Fant, Kelly-Martin updates

Iowa Hawkeyes tight end Noah Fant (87) celebrates a touchdown after catching a five yard pass during the third quarter of their Big Ten Conference college football game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. Iowa won 48-31.(Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes tight end Noah Fant (87) celebrates a touchdown after catching a five yard pass during the third quarter of their Big Ten Conference college football game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. Iowa won 48-31.(Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

It’s kind of hard not to put stock in the depth chart Iowa releases on Mondays. It is a general outline of the team that will take the field on Saturday.

But Monday is awfully early in the week, so you know by now not to marry yourself to what the Monday depth chart says.

The Hawkeyes (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) do have a few lineup questions heading into this Saturday's game at Indiana (4-2, 1-1).

Middle linebacker Amani Jones will be out for the first half this week. He was called for targeting in the final minutes of Iowa’s 48-31 victory last Saturday at Minnesota.

Jones replaced senior Jack Hockaday, who suffered a knee injury in the first half last week. His status for Saturday is doubtful. Beyond that, it’s wait and see after an MRI.

In the immediate postgame, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said “good question” to who the middle linebacker will be in the first half against the Hoosiers.

The depth chart listed junior Kristian Welch, who began 2018 as the middle linebacker. Jones emerged in spring practice and pushed Welch over to the weakside. Since then, redshirt freshman Djimon Colbert has emerged on the weakside. Last week, Welch played a handful of snaps as the nickel linebacker.

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True freshmen linebackers Dillon Doyle and Seth Benson made the trip to Minnesota. They’re now on the depth chart. Doyle is listed alongside Jones as the backup at middle linebacker. Benson is listed as the backup to sophomore Barrington Wade, who’s replacing sophomore Nick Niemann. Niemann suffered a knee injury against Wisconsin and is probably a few weeks away from a return.

Wade played 16 snaps and saw a mix of run and pass. Strong safety Amani Hooker did see snaps at outside linebacker, something Iowa started experimenting with last spring. He thought he held up well, but missed a few alignment calls.

Cornerback Matt Hankins missed last week with a wrist injury. Michael Ojemudia, the other corner, was limited with injuries, Ferentz said. So, Iowa will again have true freshmen Julius Brents and Riley Moss at the corner spots this week.

Probably. Ferentz said Ojemudia didn’t practice enough to play a lot vs. the Gophers, he still lined up on the opening kickoff unit and played six snaps in coverage. So, still hard to know if it’s injuries or if defensive coordinator Phil Parker likes Moss better as the starter.

Iowa season stats

season_stats_FB_2018.pdf by on Scribd

On offense, tight end Noah Fant and running back Ivory Kelly-Martin are listed as starters, but both left the Minnesota game late in the fourth and didn’t return. Fant hit the deck hard when he leapt in the air on a tight end jet sweep and took on a couple of Gophers. Kelly-Martin had a motionless moment on the turf after taking a shot.

They are likely on concussion protocol at the very least.

Some noise in the system surfaced this weekend from Fant family members on his reps.

Chris Fant, Noah’s brother and head football coach at Northwest High School in Omaha, Neb., tweeted what basically was a complaint about Noah’s snaps compared to tight end T.J. Hockenson.

It stirred up social media on Sunday night. It’ll probably come up during Ferentz’s news conference Tuesday. It’s probably frustration in the moment.

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Fant was a first-team preseason all-American pick at the position. He leads Iowa with 19 receptions and five receiving TDs. Fant seems to have shaken off some early-season rust and is rounding into the standard he set for himself last season, which included 16.8 yards per catch. That is down this year at 10.3 yards.

Clearly some frustration. We’ll see how it plays out or if it is even addressed.

Two defensive Hawkeyes landed weekly honors from the Big Ten for their performances against Minnesota.

Junior defensive end Anthony Nelson earned defensive player of the week with three sacks, four QB hurries and a QB hit against the Gophers. He’s the second Iowa defensive end to receive Big Ten POW honors this season, joining sophomore A.J. Epenesa, who earned this after the Iowa State game.

Moss was successfully picked on by a couple of really good wide receivers, but he didn’t ball up in the fetal position and now has a B1G freshman of the week honor.

Moss picked off two passes, including a textbook high-pointer in the Iowa end zone during the second quarter. His second interception and 36-yard return led to a field goal and a 41-24 advantage in the fourth quarter.

The last Hawkeye to earn freshman of the week was cornerback Manny Rugamba in 2016 after Iowa defeated Michigan.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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