IOWA CITY, Iowa - Iowa’s final spring practice Saturday at Kinnick Stadium featured some different names, because some of the familiar ones weren’t on the field.
No Tyrone Tracy or Nico Ragaini, two among a talented group of wide receivers.
There were a few defensive linemen sitting out among the scattered other injuries.
Nothing serious, apparently, but enough to make coach Kirk Ferentz a bit queasy heading into the summer.
Still, Ferentz understood that the calendar had flipped to May, and it’s still a long way away from August camp and that September 4 season/Big Ten opener against Indiana.
“We’re not trying to get game-ready right now,” Ferentz said. “We’re not trying to put a team together. We’re just trying to get guys moving forward.”
Time, though, can be sneaky, and Ferentz knows that.
Ferentz called the various injuries “freakish, flukish,” a sign that luck wasn’t exactly on the Hawkeyes’ side in April.
If anything, Ferentz said, the injuries opened up opportunities for others.
The names of the future were on display, especially at wide receiver, where Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce IV, two freshmen, showed there’s plenty of talent and potential to like.
The injuries, though, are a sign that the Hawkeyes have to be prepared for anything in the 2021 season.
“We don’t have much depth on our team, period, anywhere,” Ferentz said. “I’m sure there’s an exception.”
Now, there is depth at wide receiver. The secondary, Ferentz said, could have six players capable of starting. Iowa’s offensive line has experience, but an injury or two could jumble that puzzle. Tyler Goodson is firmly entrenched as the starting running back, and Ivory Kelly-Martin’s knee injury has given more practice time to Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams, who had their moments on Saturday.
There are, of course, the quarterback questions. Spencer Petras, No. 1 on the depth chart at that position, looked good at times, not so good at others. Ferentz said the next level behind Petras has Alex Padilla and Deuce Hogan, two others who had their inconsistencies.
The advantage for Petras will be his experience, but Ferentz said accuracy will be the key.
The Hawkeyes went 6-2 last season after no spring practice and a disjointed, confusing offseason. On a day when Ferentz was looking forward to the 2021 season, so many of his key players from last season were going in the final day of the NFL Draft.
That’s why theme all spring for Ferentz has been that at least the Hawkeyes were able to get 15 spring practices after the pandemic-induced silence of 2020.
More time allows for holes to be filled.
“It’s just good to be practicing,” Ferentz said.
So many Hawkeyes had not been through a spring practice, and it was something Ferentz could see in the closing days.
“Just the conditioning level, the endurance it takes to really practice hard,” he said.
But the Hawkeyes made it to May, somewhat battered and bruised, not quite as deep as Ferentz would like.
How they’ll develop that depth, he said, “That’s going to be a real race against time for us.”
The clock to the fall is already ticking.