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Commentary: Recent two-deep overhyped

BY BRENDAN STILES | AUGUST 31, 2009 7:05 AM

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

Just a week before the No. 22 Iowa Hawkeyes open the season against Northern Iowa, head coach Kirk Ferentz released his two-deep on Aug. 28 for the first game of the year. Once again, running back seems to be the position in question.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from covering this football team, it’s to take these two-deeps sent out every week with an eye of skepticism.

Last year, everyone was up in arms about why Shonn Greene wasn’t even listed on the initial two-deep (Paki O’Meara was listed as the starting running back, with Nate Guillory listed behind him).

Just days afterward, Guillory transferred to Alabama-Birmingham. When the newer two-deep was given out the week of the game, Greene was listed as the starter.

A year later, running backs headline the initial two-deep. Only this time, there is a little more anguish among Hawkeye fans regarding the health of sophomore Jewel Hampton.

There’s fear his setback a couple weeks ago could be severe enough to keep him out the entire season.

But that is pure speculation. We know for sure Hampton will not play against Northern Iowa, but whether he misses all of 2009 or is ready to go for Iowa State still remains to be seen.

Unless Ferentz sends out a release today regarding Hampton, no one really knows anything until 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, when Ferentz meets with the media for his first weekly press conference of the season.

Even then, Hampton’s status beyond this week could remain uncertain.

One thing Ferentz has been consistent about when it comes to injuries is he clearly indicates when someone can’t play, as he did with Hampton this week. Anything beyond “he’s not going to play” is open for interpretation.

In a time where fans want to know the news and want it now, two-deeps help provide instant satisfaction. That said, a lot can change in a matter of days.

Another good example of taking these with a drop of lemon juice is last November prior to the Penn State game. If Hawkeye fans recall, wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos wasn’t listed as a starter for that game at the beginning of that week, then proceeded to have the best game of his career, playing a key role in the Hawkeyes’ 24-23 win.

My point is this — anything can happen. Remember last year, when Jake Christensen was listed as the starting quarterback on the two-deep, only for the coaches to then decide Ricky Stanzi would actually start?

Looking at this latest two-deep, people see Marvin McNutt and Trey Stross listed as the starting wide receivers. This doesn’t mean they’re the only receivers who will see playing time on Saturday.
Same goes with defensive linemen. Those guys are frequently rotated in and out so they don’t wear down late in the game.

What you saw in ink over the weekend probably should’ve been written in pencil and then photocopied for release. If you’re going to rely on the two-deep as the know-all, end-all of what to expect on Saturday, then the one given out in the next 24 to 48 hours will hold more merit.

But no matter how many times you break down this week’s two-deep position by position, nothing will be certain until the Hawkeyes come out of the Kinnick Stadium tunnel Saturday morning.


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