One of the more surprising developments out of Saturday's open practice was the emergence of true freshman offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga. The newcomer ran with the No. 2s at left tackle.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Bulaga, a four-star prospect out of Woodstock, Ill., was in the mix for playing time and a decision would be made by midweek.
"He has been with the two's and doing a nice job," Ferentz said. "He has a lot to learn, like all the first-year guys. For the most part, he has been doing well and is handling the volume well."
INJURY REPORT: a breakdown of injuries from what we know –
Dace Richardson: Still has a bad leg and likely will not make it back for the season opener.
Alex Kanellis: Suffering from headaches. Coach Ferentz said he is behind Richardson in terms of readiness and I got the feeling that redshirting is a possibility.
Anthony Bowman: Sidelined about midway through the workout with an apparent right shoulder injury.
Paul Chaney: Also came off the field with an apparent left leg injury.
Mitch King: Unspecified arm injury that has not caused him to miss time. He wore a brace on it on Saturday, but he was moving well and has been practicing.
Damian Sims: Foot injury that is minor. He was held from contact for precautionary reasons. Coach Ferentz said his senior running back would have played if it was a game.
Tom Busch: He was limited in practice because of a minor injury.
Ben Evans: Made a few receptions before leaving the field with an apparent arm injury.
Tyler Gerstadt: The star of the spring game saw limited action and left the field with ice on his left foot.
Trey Stross: Leg injury. Was held out for precautions. Coach Ferentz expected the receiver to return on Monday.
Grant McCracken: Did not dress. No information was released on his injury.
EARLY BIRDS: During the off-season, Ferentz continued to state that his staff would look at true freshmen to contribute. Saturday's practice showed that there are plenty in the mix.
"We have about eight or 10 names on the board right now, and you saw a lot of them with the two's today," Ferentz said. "This week, we will look at it. By the end of Wednesday's practice, we need to hone in on who the guys are that look like they will be playing as freshmen, and all of our positions. We are going to need to be smart about reps after Wednesday and think about the game."
If I was a betting man (which I no longer am), I would say that the following are the most likely to bypass the shirt:
Cedric Everson – He received a ton of reps with the twos and picked off three passes. With the thin depth at CB, he looks like a lock.
Diauntae Morrow – He stepped in quickly with the No. 2s on defense and also took a ton of reps. He looked like he got it and Coach Phil Parker appeared to have confidence in him. I also think he's a lock.
Jordan Bernstine – The DM Lincoln product rotated in at cornerback and safety and played well. Based on reps, he also looks like someone who will get a serious look and contribute on special teams and in the nickel and dime.
Dezman Moses – The New Jersey native ran at No. 2 Will and played physical. He saw a lot of time and looks like a guy that can help on special teams.
Jevon Pugh – A lot more Big Ten ready physically than I expected. If you compare him to what Damian Sims looked like as a true frosh, it's night and day. Ferentz makes sure to mention his name whenever the running back position is the topic. I think the coaches could like to get his feet wet this year and he could be a Shonn Greene like contributor on ST.
Those are the guys that appear to have the best shot. Colin Sandeman took quite a few reps at WR, but that position is loaded up with enough potential that it might be tough for him to break through.
Tyler Sash received very few reps. He was third and fourth team safety.
PLAY OF THE DAY: Tight end Tony Moeaki grabbed a short pass over the middle, turned and just leveled Brent Greenwood, who came flying in for the tackles. Greenwood bounced off Tony like a flea and rumbled another seven or eight yards.
The runner-up POD was DJK busting a short curl into a 60-yard TD. He easily outran Everson on the play.
Signor clearly has the stronger leg. The accuracy is probably a toss up with maybe a slight edge going to Austin. I think he'll emerge from this thing but would be surprised to see Iowa bring both on the road like they did with Andy Fenstermaker and John Gallery.
Ryan Donahue looked good punting.
Dana Brown is buried on the depth chart. He's running behind walk-on Paki O'Meara and saw few reps even with Sims sidelined.
Everson has a nose for the ball and some great instincts. He looks very natural at corner, which we haven't seen a lot of here in the last decade or so.
Brodell, Douglas and James Cleveland were catching punts.
Cleveland is the No. 3 receiver with Stross sidelined. He really gives the Hawks a big, strong slot receiver that can catch the over-the-middle pass in traffic.
The tight end combination of Moeaki and Brandon Myers might end up being the best combo in the Ferentz era. And that's saying something.
I felt a lot better last year with Jake backing up Drew than I do about the guys behind Christensen this year.