Ferentz Spring 2011 Presser

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To kick off the start of Iowa's spring practice, Ferentz held a press conference Wednesday afternoon. The content was mostly the usual stuff--injuries, position breakdowns, etc.--with the exception of a few (and hopefully final) words on rhadbo and a couple of shots at the media.

Spring Injuries:

  • Marvin McNutt - shoulder/hand surgery, out for spring
  • Steve Bigach - shoulder surgery, out for spring
  • Tanner Miller - shoulder surgery, out for spring
  • Shane DiBona - shoulder surgery, out for spring
  • Austin Vier - back injury, out indefinitely
  • Brad Rogers - heart problem, out indefinitely
  • Tyler Nielsen - broken vertebrae, practicing with no contact
  • The Rhabdo13 - will be eased in over first 4 practices

All of the guys who had off-season surgery (which seems to be a pretty common thing these days...especially for shoulders) are expected back in June. The injury I am most concerned with at this point is Brad Rogers. He failed a cardio test prior to the Insight Bowl and still has not been cleared medically to play. There hasn't been any real indication of the severity of the condition, but it has been about 3 months now and he's still being monitored. Hopefully it isn't career threatening. In terms of depth at fullback, there are definitely numbers there. Iowa's roster lists 6 fullbacks, which I would speculate is more than just about any team in the country, however, Rogers is the only one with any real experience. Four are players that switch positions (Covert-DE, Gimm-TE, Meyers-LB, and Olson-LB) and one (Mark Weisman) is a transfer from Air Force who as far as I know will have to sit the year out due to NCAA rules.

McNutt and Miller are both listed as starter on Iowa's spring depth chart, so their absence may actually allow some of the younger/inexperienced players get some valuable reps. Receiver and safety were the two positions probably hit hardest by attrition. Ferentz mentioned Don Shumpert and Kevonte Martin-Manley as two young guys that could have an impact at receiver. Safety is a little more interesting as the coaches are looking at potentially trying out some cornerbacks to fill the void. Ferentz, when asked about moving Hyde to safety during an on the side interview, said, "We will fool around with him in there, with Jordan [Bernstine] in there and look for the best combinations."

Rhabdo Report:

In addition to Ferentz's presser and the start of spring practice, the results of the investigation into the root cause of the rhadbo cases was released and presented to the Iowa Board of Regents. You can read the full report on TheGazette.com. It is actually an interesting read. The document covers the methodology used to gather data for the investigation, then reports its finding, and is ended with a handful of recommendations for the Iowa Football program. The findings basically exonerate all of the players and coaches from any wrong-doing. Ultimately it came down to a lack of knowledge about rhabdo by the strength coaches and a lack of communication between the affected players with the coaches. Though some of the players were showing symptoms the same day as the workout, none went to their coaches for 4 days. Eight players didn't say anything until a mass text was sent out alerting the entire team about the situation.

The one thing that I haven't heard many people talking about, but that I thought was interesting, is that there was a strong correlation between the percent of body weight squatted and the incidence of rhabdo among the skill-position players. Each player squatted 50% of their maximum squat weight. So, some of the lighter guys with strong legs ended up squatted a higher percentage of their body weight presumably making the workout more difficult.

Other than that, this story is pretty much over. It was kind of just a "freak thing" as Marc Morehouse calls it.

Here are Ferentz's remarks on the report:

Welcome, everybody. First of all, just want to thank the committee that did the research and analysis study for all of their efforts. I know they put a lot of time into it and moved promptly with that whole thing, so just appreciate their efforts on the rhabdo study, appreciate the feedback that they provided for us. Then along that front, the biggest news I have for you, all 13 players have been cleared medically to proceed forward. They've been monitored during this entire time period as you might well imagine. Concern has always been for their well-being. They've all moved along and have been cleared to proceed from the medical front. We're certainly happy about that, happy about getting to moving forward as a football team.


The Iowa Spring Prospectus

The spring prospectus is out! I always enjoy reading through it, even though most of it is not new information. The most interesting pieces from the prospectus are the updated roster and depth chart.


The roster features a bunch of semi-new names. There are a lot of walk-on red-shirt freshmen that we heard about around this time last when they came to Iowa, but haven't heard about since (and we're never listed on the roster before). There are also two notable new names: Dan Heiar and Mark Weisman. Weisman I mentioned above as the transfer fullback. Heiar was the only JUCO player in Iowa's recruiting class in this year. He's an offensive lineman from Iowa Western Community College who could challenge for a guard spot immediately.

HawkeyeReport notes some other changes in the roster, including weight gains, position changes, new numbers, etc... The biggest weight gain was by walk-on lineman Cole Heissel who added 30 pounds and is being moved from offensive to defense. He was mentioned by Ferentz during the presser, which is usually a good sign:

We'll see what he can do. Stay tuned. That's probably two years down the road. We'll see what happens. Great young guy. Great story.


On the depth chart front, there are also some notable changes. The biggest surprise was at safety, where Collin Sleeper is listed as the starting strong safety. Sleeper is a walk-on and has not seen the playing field, not even on special teams, in his 3 years on campus. Iowa does have a pretty strong tradition of turning walk-on safeties into stars. I think more realistically, however, is the situation where either Hyde or Bernstine moves from corner to safety. Ferentz did have nice things to say about Sleeper though.

Sleeper. He's got the right name. Sleeper is the right name. He's kind of been lurking in the background. It's a little bit like the Nielsen, A.J. Edds stories, other positions, where we've had two starters at the safety positions that have been there for a long time. He's been laboring in anonymity. But he's done a good job.


A few other spots of interest:
  • Jason White is the number 2 running back behind Marcus Coker. He's the only other back with experience, so it's not too surprising, though I though De'Andre Johnson might be there.
  • Thomas Nardo, another walk-on, is one of the starting defensive tackles.
  • Christian Kirskey is listed as a co-starter at WLB with Anthony Hitches and the number 2 at OLB. He has risen up the depth chart very quickly.
  • Marvin McNutt is the punt returner, and Keenan Davis is the only listed kick returner.

Other than that, the depth chart is pretty much what you'd expect.

It's exciting that spring practice is finally here. Hopefully we'll get some pictures from practice before too long. Ken O'Keefe and Norm Parker will have press conferences on April 13 and the spring game will be April 16 at 12:00.
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