Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz told the Iowa City Monday Morning Quarterback Club that if the Hawkeyes were playing today (Monday afternoon) three true freshmen would likely play and maybe as many as six or seven.
Linebackers James Morris and Christian Kirksey and tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz will likely play in the season opener Saturday against Eastern Illinois.
Morris, 6-foot-2, 215, has been installed as the No. 3 middle linebacker. With senior starter Jeff Tarpinian slowed by a broken hand, Morris has been a two behind junior Bruce Davis. Kirksey, a 6-2, 195-pounder from St. Louis, might be seeing time at outside linebacker. Both will help on special teams.
Fiedorowicz is likely the No. 3 tight end. He also appeared to be on the first field goal unit Aug. 14.
Now, the other three or four.
Anyone’s guess is as good as the next. Here are mine with a quick explanation:
RB De’Andre Johnson – Iowa needs running backs, especially in week 1. Sophomore Jewel Hampton will serve a one-game suspension. Will fellow true freshman Marcus Coker return from a shoulder injury and play? It’s a possibility.
DT Carl Davis — He’s big, 6-5, 295, so he might be able to handle himself. In the practices I’ve seen, D-line coach Rick Kaczenski has given him some extra coaching. He does play too high, but he saw some time with the No. 2s during the open scrimmage.
K Jonny Mullings — If he wins the kickoff job, he plays. He’s 23 and he has a shot at being Iowa’s punter for the next three years. Remember, he’s mainly a punter.
S Anthony Hitchens/Tanner Miller — Iowa needs safety depth. These guys have good size (6-1, 200 for Hitchens and 6-2, 195 for Miller). Remember, coaches have spent a lot of August scouting for special teamers.
WR Kevonte Martin-Manley — I don’t see it. Iowa is loaded at WR with DJK and Marvin McNutt, not to mention Colin Sandeman and Keenan Davis. But between the few practices I’ve seen and the Big Ten Network’s practice show last week, KMM has made plays.
We’ll see what happens Saturday.
Also, maybe we’ll know something about Big Ten divisions Tuesday or Wednesday.