Here are a few of my thoughts from watching Iowa’s open practice on August 10th in Kinnick Stadium:
M*A*S*H* REPORT: Greg Garmon and Barkley Hill were not dressed. Kirk Ferentz said that both had minor injuries (bumps and bruises) and may be back on Monday. The news was not so good for Ruben Lile and Nolan MacMillan. Lile suffered a torn ACL and is done for the year. MacMillan fractured his hand on Wednesday and will be back this coming Wednesday. How much he figures into things is seriously in doubt.
Brad Rogers was not dressed, nor was BJ Lowery. Ferentz said that Lowery had a sprain of some sort. He said that there were a couple sprains that were more serious and did not clarify whose sprains were more serious. Greg Castillo was working at a corner as was freshman Kevin Buford. Given that Iowa is going to play more man to man this year on the outside, Lowery figures to play a huge role. Maruice Fleming was not dressed, either.
TENOR: Things seemed upbeat and there was pep in the step of the players during their positional workouts. The best entertainment of the day was the OL vs DL drills. The offensive line is full of good players. There are a couple of potentially really good players and one or two potentially great players. Austin Blythe is good and has the ability to be a great one, maybe at center next year but right guard this season. James Ferentz has a mean streak to him, too. I continue to feel this group is going to be really good by the time October rolls around.
PUNTER: If you only ‘listened’ to the punter competition, one players kicks clearly make a different sound coming off the foot and that is freshman Connor Kornbrath. He is 6-6/215 and had some good punts today. He had a couple that were not so good, but on a bad snap to his right he brought it in and got it off with a shorter delivery than normal. That was a heady move for a young player, to know the snap was off and the rush would get there quicker.
TALENT AT RECEIVER: Perhaps there is more talent at receiver than we thought in the spring. Jacob Hillyer looked like a different player and is a nice target at 6-4/205. He made a great catch on a long Jake Rudock sideline pass late in the scrimmage. Don Shumpert looked much better today than he did in the spring, although the unit still had a few too many drops today. Tevaun Smith has the look of a player that will play this year, too.
MORE TALENT AT TIGHT END: There may be more quality depth at tight end than any other position other than offensive line. Perhaps it was just today’s script, but the tight ends received a lot of targets. We got a chance to see CJ Fiedorowicz be ‘thrown open’ on a long pass from James Vandenberg. CJF was covered by two players but the ball was high enough to where only CJF could get it and he did. I just don’t know who you put on him in a one on one situation. Jake Duzey looked good at times, too as did Zach Derby.
BACKUP QB: This was just one practice, and the ninth straight practice without a break at that, but Cody Sokol looked better than Jake Rudock at least on this day. I was sitting next to HawkeyeGameFilm for much of the day and he felt that the staff has tweaked Rudock’s delivery from last year, shortening it up. Subsequently, he looks very mechanical right now. I do think Iowa will have a full fledged quarterback battle this coming spring between those two and CJ Beatherd.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Early in the practice, the offensive line was pushing the defensive line five or six yards off the ball with regularity. However, the defense was not blitzing. Once they began doing that, the playing field leveled a bit. Iowa is going to have to be more aggressive this year than it has in most of the Ferentz-era years to have a shot at slowing down the opposing offense. Marcus Collins really flashed some knifing instincts as an MLB with the two’s, picking the right gap each time. It looked like he had the freedom to attack, too.
GENERAL: It was a bit ragged out there on Saturday, but this team isn’t a week away from its first game. It’s practice 11 of fall camp with so many young players on the roster and some key position players not playing. I had to remind myself of that leaving the stadium but there is the temptation to just shut ones eyes and open them up on September 1st when Iowa plays for real. Then again, this will be our last look at the Hawkeyes until then, so that takes care of that.
Tags: hawkeye football