Heading into this season, the Iowa football team’s interior offensive line seemed to be in order, but with the opener nearly here, it’s actually in flux.
The Iowa football team lost two starters from the interior offensive line from last year’s 9-4 squad, but through spring camp, it seemed like it was already in a good place. Back was last year’s starting right guard Cole Banwart and replacing Ross Reynolds and Keegan Render would be redshirt senior Landan Paulsen and redshirt freshman Tyler Linderbaum who just converted from the defensive line last December. In theory, the interior offensive line was set and ready to go.
Yet, as the Big Ten Network rolled through Iowa City yesterday, a bit of light was shed on the interior offensive line, arguably the biggest weakness in last year’s offense, that seemed to say otherwise.
Injuries have played a part in this as Cole Banwart was seen walking around in a boot, but it sounds like, in general, there has been some great competition at both guard spots.
Kirk Ferentz had this to say during his time on the Big Ten bus yesterday:
"I think at the guard positions we have some really good competition. The Paulsen brothers are right there right now, Cole Banwart, Cody Ince is a young guy coming up, and we got some younger players that are trying to come through the competition. That may be a while. We may go through September trying to find out who is who."
I expected both Paulsen brothers to be in competition but Cody Ince is not a name I expected to be competing for a job this soon. Ince is a redshirt freshman who joined the Iowa football program as a 3-star recruit from Wisconsin in last year’s recruiting class. After joining the program at 260 pounds, he has added 27 pounds assumingly through Chris Doyle’s fantastic strength program.
Another guy who wasn’t mentioned by Kirk is Mark Kallenberger, one of the top recruits in the class of 2017. Kallenberger, a Bettendorf native, was the 330th ranked player in the nation and a four-star recruit when he joined the Iowa football team. However, with Alaric Jackson and Tristan Wirfs manning the tackle positions, the Hawks are giving him a shot inside as well.
With ten days until the first Iowa football game, my guess is the guard positions will look much like the linebacker position did last year if it hasn’t been clearly resolved to this point. My hope is that it’s a matter of good competition and not trying to find the guy who is messing up the least because the running game severely needs a bounce-back year after two down seasons, and how well the interior offensive line plays is the big unknown.