On a day that was for the kids, it was appropriate that it was younger Hawkeyes that really stood out. Many first and second year players showed their potential on Saturday making strong cases for playing time. This was the first chance for us to see the incoming freshmen and they made a good first impression. It also didn't hurt that the weather was beautiful (aside from a couple of sprinkles at the very end of practice).
Okay, so thoughts from practice...
Vandenberg is still clearly number one. He was very good on Saturday and aside from a bad stretch on 3-down practice he was sharp. During a 2-minute drill he went 5/6 for 48 yards setting up a last second field goal (the coaches went super conservative, no surprise, and settled for a field goal with about 28 second left on the clock).
Behind Vandenberg, Wienke and Derby split reps as number 2. Derby, like in the spring, looked clearly better but threw 2 interceptions. If the coaches want a game manager, Wienke's probably number 2...but if they're looking for someone to go out there and win a game, I'd go with Derby.
Ruddock also had a very solid outing. He looked very comfortable out there and was connecting well with the freshmen receivers. I still think he'll redshirt this year, but he's going to be pushing the other QBs.
Coker didn't participate in the scrimmage portion of practice and wore a red jersey all day. Ferentz said if it was a game day, then Coker would have played. It sounds like a really minor injury and the coaches are just being precautious. In his place, White and Johnson got first team reps until Johnson went out with what looked like a minor leg injury. It didn't look serious, but I hope it wasn't his knee again. White looked okay and was pretty good finding the hole in the goalline practice, but overall didn't really impress me.
The trio of true freshmen, though, all showed some promise. McCall was first in and showed his ability to take a hit and push the pile forward. He's got good size and looks like a B1G runningback already. Canzeri was also showed some potential with his speed. He hit the hole fast and got into the secondary a couple time for some nice gains. Bullock looked fine, but didn't stand out as much as the other two.
McNutt and Davis will both be good. They didn't have a lot of catches on Saturday, but when they were thrown the ball, they made plays. The workhorse over the weekend was Kevonte Martin-Manley. He was the clear number 3 guy and played a lot with the first and second teams. He was consistently open and had the ball thrown his way more often that any other receiver. The two true freshmen, Grant and Hillyer, looked good against the 3rd string defense and I wouldn't be surprised if one or both of them play this year.
Iowa is stacked at tight end. Fiedorowicz had the best day and showed his ability to get open down the field. He will be seeing the field a lot in 2-TE sets and probably even some 1-TE sets on passing downs. Herman looked fine too, but was pretty quiet in the passing game.
Iowa will also get contribtuions from Derby and probably one freshman. Derby had a nice practice and played well for the second team. Ray Hamilton looked the most ready of the freshmen both receiving and blocking.
The big thing to notes on the line was that MacMillan is not back yet and Scherff was out as well. Stepping up was Matt Tobin as the starting left guard. The other starters were Reiff, Ferentz, Gettis, and Zusevics. In all the first team O-line played as expected--they handled the defensive line quite easily and I didn't see any egrigious mistakes. This was probably the one position where I didn't really notice any underclassmen standing out.
Okay, switching sides now. It was pretty hard to peg the 4 guys who are the starters. Iowa rotated a lot of guys in along the line which is part of the plan this year (see the end of the Northwestern game with Clayborn out of breath on the sidelines). Daniels and Binns are both locked in as starters, but the other two spots are completely up in the air. I'd put Carl Davis (if he can last more than 4 plays without having to take a breather) and Darian Cooper as the top two contenders for the other DT. Also thrown in the mix were Forgy, Gaglione (though he got tripped up a little toward the end of practice...didn't look serious), and Trinca-Pasat. Alvis and Daniel weren't practicing today, but will likely get some playing time too.
I didn't really pay much attention to linebackers on Saturday... Morris sat out today with Bruce Davis filling in at MLB. The only thing I really noticed with Davis is that he was the one who came off when the defense went to nickle. Both Kirksey and Hitchens played a lot either together or rotating. Hitchens had a pick. Nielsen only played a few downs, which I'm guessing is just the coaches being precautious since he's coming off a neck injury. I think I remember seeing freshmen Melvin Spears.
Ah, here's where things get interesting on defense. The starting for were Prater, Castillo, Hyde (at FS), and Sleeper. As a unit I thought they played pretty well. Castillo looked mcuh better than he did a couple of years ago and had a least one break up. When Iowa went to nickle, Bernstine moved in at a safety spot and Hyde slid over to cover a receiver. I thought Bernstine looked good and I think he'll challenge Sleeper at SS.
On the second team defense, B.J. Lowery was very active. He had an interception on a tipped pass and I'm pretty sure he broke up a pass or two. The other backup CB was freshman Torrey Campbell. He looked like a freshman to me and is a pass interference waiting to happen (he had 2 or 3). Tanner Miller rotated with Jack Swanson at FS. Neither really look like they'll challenge Hyde at FS.
The 3 guys all looked pretty equal. I was impressed when they started practice and the 3 combine for 11/12 from 40-yards. Mossbrucker was the most accuruate of the day and freshman Marshall Koehn had the biggest leg. Mossbrucker and Koehn both had problems with kicking the ball low, however, and Mossbrucker even had one tipped that somehow still went through the uprights.
It's Eric Guthrie, pretty much end of converstation. Wienke took a couple of punts that looked sort of terrible, but actually had some decent distance.