Spring Ball: Four More Questions

In our second installment looking at the newest edition of Iowa Hawkeye football, we look at the defensive line, the kicking game, fullback and Norm Parker.

We're back with our second installment of key questions regarding the Iowa football team during spring drills. If you missed questions 1-4, please click here to catch up.

5. How do the Hawkeyes replace defensive line stalwarts, Adrian Clayborn, Christian Ballard and Karl Klug?

It won't be easy and "replacing" that level of play is a pipe dream. You're talking about three of the top performers at their respective positions in the last 15-20 years.

The Iowa coaches have been in this position before, however. The Hawkeyes suffered through some serious growing pains when then sophomores Kenny Iwebema and Bryan Mattison, along with freshmen Mitch King and Matt Kroul stepped into the starting lineup in 2005. They replaced standouts Matt Roth, Jonathan Babineaux, Tyler Luebke and Derreck Robinson. Roth, Robinson and Babineaux still are collecting NFL paychecks.

Iowa sits in a better position now that it did in '05. Tackle Mike Daniels and End Broderick Binns served as part-time starters last season. Binns played on the first unit for all of '09.

Daniels is a beast with all-Big Ten potential. It will be a matter of transitioning from role player to marked man.

Binns shined at times last season. But after serving a one-game suspension for an off-field incident to start the year, he struggled with consistency. His past performance suggests he's poised for a strong senior season.

After Daniels and Binns, there are questions. Lebron Daniel, a fifth-year senior, is positioned to replace Clayborn at right end. He'll be pushed by Joe Forgy.

Thomas Nardo begins the spring No. 1 at the tackle spot opposite Daniels. Steve Bigach will miss this month after off-season surgery but should be in the mix for playing time on his return as should massive redshirt freshman C.R. Davis.

Ferentz said he expects to use six or seven guys in a rotation up front. It will take a committee to replace the departed.

6. Will Trent Mossbrucker have a role with this team?

The Indiana native enters his fourth season on campus and the window is closing. He lost his place kicking job to true freshman walk-on Mike Meyer last season and it will be an uphill battle to win it back.

Mossbrucker has Meyer ahead of him and incoming freshman preferred walk-on Marshall Koehn from Solon on his tail. Koehn might have the strongest leg of the three and will push for the kick-off job out of the gate.

Mossbrucker is on scholarship and also burned a redshirt year. He's a nice insurance policy is something were to happen to Meyer and he still has the potential that led to the coaching staff bringing him in the first place.

7. Will Norm Parker's health let him coach through the season without a hitch?

Iowa missed the old gray fox last year. The Hawkeyes would miss him more this fall with all the questions on the defense.

Diabetes often is an unpredictable disease. The person can be cruising along well and then all of a sudden things go south.

I think Ferentz will demand that Norm not push it too hard and proceed smartly. Coaching from the press box should help.

You could tell Norm was back when you watched the Insight. It was classic bend but don't break, Parker ball.

I'm interested to see what he has up his sleeve to get the most out of this year's talent.

8. Who replaces the very important Brett Morse at fullback?

It's one of the unsung positions at Iowa and also one of the most cryptical to success. Morse stands a good chance of playing in the NFL.

Brad Rogers looked like the heir apparent with as a back-up last year. Then, he went to the sidelines with a heart ailment in December and missed the Insight Bowl.

Ferentz said on Wednesday that Rogers will be out of spring practice as doctors continue to conduct tests on his heart. The Hawkeyes obviously will proceed with extreme caution.

Jonathan Gimm, who has changed back and forth between tight end and fullback a number of times in his Iowa career, likely will get the spring reps. At 6-3, 240, he possesses the size to knock heads with linebackers.

After Rogers and Gimm, there are a lot of young players. It appears Scott Covert has moved from defensive line to fullback and former Iowa City Regina Jake Reisen also is in the mix. *


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