There has been a lot of talk on the message boards that Iowa needs to blow-out Kent State to show that they have improved. I don't necessarily agree with that because this is going to be a team that keeps getting stronger as the season goes on. There is talent on this team, a lot more than the previous two years, and its only going to keep improving and getting more chemistry as the season wears on.
Why is Jermelle buried on the depth charts?
First of all, none of us have seen Jermelle on the practice field. The coaches even try to disregard high talk of Jermelle because I feel they don't want too much pressure put on him. However, I know Ladell Betts told Dan Cagley and I at Media Day that, "Jermelle is the fastest, strongest, and most agile running back that we have." Now, If it's coming from Ladell Betts, I believe there has to be some truth to it. I fully expect Jermelle to get his chance on the playing field at some point this season.
Is there any news on the secondary front?
Benny Sapp has gained weight and is a lot more physical CB. He has had some "cramping" problems so far, but he should have a solid season. The same goes for Bob Sanders, who has really increased his coverage skills. Despite what lot of people are saying, Antwan Allen is by the far the most advanced CB the staff has brought in during their short tenure. Antwan's coverage skills are good enough right now, but he'll need to gain muscle. From what I understand, Antwan did a good job D'ing up Kahill in 7 on 7 drills this summer.
Also, don't count on Jermire Roberts being the starting FS just quite yet. Chris Smith is making a good argument, and DJ Johnson has improved. Jermire is going to have some ground to make-up. I expect Ed Hinkel to red-shirt as he needs to put on weight. Ed is a talented football player, but he isn't physically ready to play at FS yet in the BigTen. If he plays, it'll be strictly on special teams. Besides, as I was one told by one coach, "Safety is the hardest position for a freshman to come in and learn."
So are Matt Roth and Blake Larsen going to be the first freshmen to make a big impact?
Actually, I really believe Blake is going to red-shirt. Unless, Ben Sobieski doesn't fully recover, I think the staff will make the best decision in red-shirting Blake. I just can't wait to see what a red-shirt year will do for Blake, I know his future is bright.
Matt Roth is the most physically dominating freshman on the team, there is no doubt about that. However, he still needs to pick-up the defense. I expect him to play, but more on special teams at first. From what I hear, Abdul Hodge is really making some noise and should be the first freshman to crack the two deeps. However, once Roth gets more a grasp of the defense, that could quickly change.
Has there been any injuries so far?
There have been no injuries reported as of now, but I can tell you Iowa is being very cautious in how they handle practices in the heat. They don't want a Northwestern-like incident happening. In fact, they've already withheld one player from practice to make sure his health is proper. There should be news coming out on that shortly!!!
Also, the freshman have had some troubles adjusting to the practices in the heat. There has been a lot of weight loss. However, most of the loss is water weight that can be replaced quickly.
Josh, what is your prediction in who will be the starting QB?
I still say don't count out Brad Banks. He has a lot of player support and he is the type of athlete that can change a 7 win season into a 8 or 9 win season. Brad just needs to keep learning the offense and developing chemistry. The staff is being smart in not publicly "bragging" him up like what Coach McCarney has been doing in Ames with Seneca Wallace. This doesn't allow a lot of pressure to be placed on Brad's shoulders.
We'll have a lot more stories on the way from our coverage of "Media Day 2001." Stay Tuned!!!!