July 30, 2008

Countdown to Camp: Position Battle #3

Over the years, Iowa has had some pretty good middle linebackers patrol the Kinnick Stadium turf. Last season, when Mike Klinkenborg was sidelined with an injury, true freshman Jacody Coleman stepped in and stepped up to fill the role. But, he is facing a real battle in camp from junior Pat Angerer, who is finally completely healthy and he has an eye on a spot in the starting lineup.

Middle Linebacker Depth Chart

Jacody Coleman (6-foot-3 and 240 pound sophomore) or Pat Angerer (6-foot-1 and 232 pound junior), Dezman Moses (6-foot-2 and 240 pound sophomore)

A Look Back

Last season, Mike Klinkenborg was the solid starter in the Iowa lineup until concussion issues sent him to the sidelines. Jacody Coleman stepped in and started one game (against Illinois) and saw plenty of action the rest of the way at middle linebacker. For the season, Coleman racked up 8 solo tackles and 16 assists and certainly brought a high tempo to the field every time out.

Angerer struggled last season with injuries and had only one assisted tackle for the season.

A Look Ahead

The conventional wisdom headed into the spring was that Coleman would be the obvious leader at middle linebacker, but one of the real surprises was that Angerer has given him a strong push and heads into the start of camp as a co-starter.

It's probably easy to have already written off Angerer given his history of various injuries that has severely limited his time on the field. But, coming out of high school he was a very talented prospect who bring a great deal of passion to the field.

Coach Darrell Wilson is probably in a good spot here because if both players stay healthy, he can't go wrong with either guy. Coleman got his feet wet last year, so he has some experience and Angerer understands the defense heading into his fourth year on campus. Both are members of the Leadership Council, which tells you that the coaches feel they have the ability to lead the team, which is a critical part of the position.

A Prediction

This one is a real coin flip as camp gets underway next week and that is why this position battle is so interesting, especially given the importance of the position in Iowa's defense. Both guys are high energy and that can certainly help raise the level of play on defense.

For this battle to really take place Angerer needs to stay healthy and if he does, there is a school of thought that Iowa could go with a rotation based on down and distance. Coleman could play in downs against the run and Angerer works in passing situations. However, given the position, it is probably more likely that the coaches go with one of the two and see where that takes them.

Coleman is probably a slight favorite to win the job in camp, but I don't think anyone would be surprised if Angerer gives him a very strong push and earns the job. Frankly, it is hard not to be very excited about the potential of either player.

A.J. Edds is just about a lock to start at the outside linebacker position, but the other spot on the weakside is still a fairly competitive race between Jeff Tarpinian and Jeremiha Hunter. Tarpinian is listed as the starter heading into camp and he gained quite a bit of experience, but Hunter has quite a bit of potential as well.

A Wildcard

How about Dezman Moses as a real wildcard? He certainly flashed last year on special teams as a true freshman and heads into camp listed as the third team middle linebacker and a backup to Edds. After bouncing around a bit at various spots, including tight end, Moses has settled at linebacker and is an explosive type player that could be called upon this year. He will make a strong push for playing time this season.

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