IOWA CITY — Midway through the college football season, Iowa and Purdue are already getting a glimpse of the future.
Hawkeye freshmen have gotten a methodical introduction to the college game while necessity has been part of the path to playing time for several players on an injury-plagued Boilermakers roster.
Saturday, the future meets the present as two teams off to 1-2 starts in Big Ten play meet in an 11 a.m. game at Kinnick Stadium.
"We’ve had some young guys step up and contribute and they’re doing a great job of helping our team," Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley said.
There are 16 freshmen — 14 redshirt freshmen and two true freshmen — listed on the Hawkeyes’ two-deep depth chart for the match-up against the Boilermakers.
Purdue counters with 20 freshmen on its depth chart, a group that includes 12 starters among a collection of 30 freshmen or redshirt freshmen who have seen playing time for coach Jeff Brohm’s team this season.
Redshirt freshman Jack Plummer is starting at quarterback, and true freshmen David Bell at receiver and King Doerue at running back have emerged as starters on offense.
True freshman defensive end George Karlaftis and redshirt freshman Cory Trice at cornerback are among the Purdue’s leaders on defense.
Karaftis leads the team with 9.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks, and Trice shifted from safety to cornerback to pick off a pair of passes and return one for a score a week ago in a 40-14 win over Maryland.
"Over summer and up to now, those true freshmen are making good progress. It’s been fun and cool to see what they’re capable of," Plummer said. "The coaches did a good job of recruiting them and as a group, they’re all really good players."
Brohm said he expects some inconsistencies as a result of the changes, which include a remake of the offensive line at four spots after Purdue (2-4) dropped a third straight game two weeks ago at Penn State.
"I think we’re making progress, but we have a ways to go," Brohm said.
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Following consecutive losses to top-20 Michigan and Penn State teams, 23rd-ranked Iowa (4-2) is looking for progress as well.
Freshman running back Tyler Goodson continues to expand his role in the Iowa offense.
With 48 carries he is second on the team behind the 70 times Mekhi Sargent has rushed for the Hawkeyes, and his 29-yard rush in last week’s 17-12 loss to the Nittany Lions was Iowa’s second-longest run from scrimmage this season.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Suwanee, Georgia, native has also become Iowa’s top receiver among running backs, catching 15 passes for 92 yards during the first six games of his college career.
Goodson recorded his first fumble at the college level in the second half against Penn State, a drop that gave the Nittany Lions’ possession at the Iowa 16-yard line and set up a third-quarter field goal.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz continued to learn about Goodson this week following the misstep.
"All of us are really impressed with Tyler. He’s handled it well, had good practices," Ferentz said. "Part of competing at this level against really good teams, you’re going to have a bad play or a bad day. It’s how you respond to that, and he’s done a good job with that."
The only other true freshman to work his way onto the Iowa depth chart at this point is Justin Britt, listed as the back-up to Mark Kallenberger at right guard on an offensive line that includes redshirt freshman Tyler Linderbaum starting at center and lists redshirt freshmen Jack Plumb, Cody Ince and Jeff Jenkins on the second team.
"We’ve got a lot of young guys out there, and they’re learning every day what it’s like to compete at this level," Stanley said. "The more experience they gain, the better they will become. It’s something we’ve all gone through."
On defense, redshirt freshman D.J. Johnson at cornerback has started three games and returns to a second-team role with Matt Hankins now healthy.
"D.J. has bought a lot of equity with all of us with how he stepped up and helped out when we needed him," Ferentz said. "That’s what you hope to see from young guys, players who will put in the work to be ready when they’re needed and then perform that way when they’re called up on."