A brand new season is almost upon us as we look forward to the 2015 version of Iowa Hawkeyes football. For the next several days, Hawkeye Insider will be giving a preview of what to watch for, what to expect, and a prediction on performance from each position group on the team.
Today, it's time for the offensive line to get the love.
The starting five from left to right to begin fall camp was Boone Myers, Jordan Walsh, Austin Blythe, Sean Welsh, and Ike Boettger. They've tinkered with that lineup some throughout the first few weeks of practice, inserting in offensive tackle Cole Croston and interior players Eric Simmons and James Daniels. The time with the ones for Croston, Simmons, and Daniels, though, appears to just be for depth purposes.
"There's no question (Myers and Boettger) have had some bumps in the road," said offensive coordinator Greg Davis. "But there's also no question that both are going to be pretty good players. We're leaving Boone right now on the left side."
Croston and Boettger have moved around from both tackle spots in camp, and that seems like an effort to fortify the third offensive tackle on the roster.
"Whoever the third guy is will have to do both," commented head coach Kirk Ferentz this past Tuesday.
I fully expect the starting lineup along the offensive line to still be Myers, Walsh, Blythe, Welsh, and Boettger for the season opener.
THE PRIMARY BACKUPS
It'll be the three that have seen a little bit of first team action in my estimation; Cole Croston, Eric Simmons, and James Daniels. This shows that though that though there may be questions at offensive tackle still, they feel good about their depth to go eight deep on the offensive line.
"(Cole) Croston is bouncing around both tackle spots," assistant Greg Davis shared on Tuesday. "In the interior, the two guards are Sean (Welsh) and Jordan (Walsh). Then you got (James) Daniels and (Eric) Simmons working in there. Simmons is also working in at center."
Asked about Daniels receiving playing time as a freshman, Davis noted, "He's a guy that deserves that conversation. Being here last Spring has helped him understand the game. (He's) more comfortable than some of the other younger guys."
THE REST OF THE BUNCH
While the second unit is expected to be comprised of Croston at tackle and Simmons and Daniels on the interior, the rest is not clear. The other two spots, according to pratice time that the media has seen, would seem to be a battle between Steve Ferentz, Dalton Ferguson, and Keegan Render. I could see a scenario where one tackle is Croston, and the other Ferguson or Render, while the guards would be Daniels and Simmons with Ferentz at center.
The offensive line is a unit I expect to be strong in the middle. They have talent and depth. I see no problems with that area. According to the coaches, both Myers and Boettger have made strides, and Croston has had a huge few weeks of practice. Knowing there is three guys they can go to is promising, and they won't be in dire straits if one goes down, and they have an alternative if one is struggling. I expect the tackles to have growing pains, but with the tradition of offensive line development at Iowa, there's also a strong chance that we'll see rapid improvement throughout the season.