Iowa State released its depth chart for Saturday's contest against North Dakota State. We'll talk to Paul Rhoads later today and get a few answers, but for now let's dive into our initial impressions.
- The first thing that stands out is D'Vario Montgomery, who's officially made the move to flanker and who's b-u-r-i-e-d at No. 4 on the depth chart. Per a handful of sources I've communicated with recently, Montgomery's facing a little bit of disciplinary action — whether that be a game or a half. This isn't too surprising, as he expressed gratitude for still being on the team when he spoke to the media the other week. Montgomery, unleashed, will play a ton.
- Some Allen Lazard guy is the backup at split end, behind Quenton Bundrage, and with Bryan Ajumobi's transfer and Montgomery's quagmire, it's a safe bet Lazard will make his first career reception Saturday.
- Pretty surprising to see Jamison Lalk jump Oni Omoile at left guard. Rhoads in early August said his starting five o-linemen — including Omoile — were pretty secure, adding it was possible that someone could be outplayed in the next dozen practices (duh). Credit to Lalk, who would also be Tom Farniok's stand-in in case of injury, for winning back the job he held in 2013.
- As expected, Brandon Jensen and Devlyn Cousin are the Cyclones' interior linemen, but it is curious how they're classified: Jensen the starting three-tech, Cousin at nose. Jensen started all 12 games at nose last season while most of Cousin's action came at three-tech. Iowa State was grooming Cousin to play nose this season, but once Jensen regained his form, it appeared they'd play Cousin at defensive tackle, as his quickness makes him a better traditional fit there than Jensen. Perhaps Shane Burnham's got something up his sleeve. It's worth noting the first three ISU opponents are power-running teams. Maybe that factors into this decision.
- Alton Meeks is the starting middle linebacker, but he'll see a ton of action at SAM in Iowa State's base look the first three games, when the priority will be stopping the run. Meeks will do that better than the guys at strongside 'backer, Drake Ferch and Jared Brackens. They'll enter the field as, by proxy, the fifth defensive back on passing downs.
- Kane Seeley beat Jordan Harris for the backup spot at MIKE, meaning Iowa State's starting linebacker rotation could for the time being really look like Miller-Seeley-Meeks.
- Trent Taylor, the backup to Mitchell Meyers at left end, is the only JUCO transfer who's not No. 3 on his particular spot on the depth chart. Wendell Taiese is third at left guard, Jordan Harris third at MIKE, Dale Pierson third at right end, Qujuan Floyd third at free safety. The jury's still out on the 2014 JUCO crop, but at this point they haven't won the jobs they were expected to. Lots of time left, though, and the learning curve is steep for a JUCO transfer, especially a summer enrollee.
- No Gabe Luna on the depth chart, which makes me believe he'll redshirt.