Earlier today the media was invited out to the second and last open practice for Iowa in advance of the 102nd Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. It was a beautiful day at the fields nearby the StubHub Center where the Hawkeyes have held their preparation for Stanford.
Scout was on hand to take all the action in and deliver you all the sights, sounds, news, and notes. We were present for some team action, stretching, special teams work, positional drills, scout team activities, and a bit of the one on ones.
NEWS AND NOTES
- Boone Myers once again was absent from any of the first team action along the offensive line. They rotated the group once more today, with Sean Welsh even seeing some time at right tackle, James Daniels at left guard, and Cole Croston at left tackle. Offensive line coach Brian Ferentz is known for getting a lot of different faces action at the position in case they are needed so this may be nothing. We were only on hand for the first 40 minutes or so.
- The only other noticeable depth observation worth mentioning is that linebacker Ben Niemann did not take all the reps at his usual spot. Bo Bower was thrusted into some first team reps. Again, this could just be for depth purposes and it could have been something that occurred throughout the year since we were not at any of the practices during the season. Either way, something to keep in mind and monitor.
- For what it's worth, both Myers and Niemann do appear to be in good health.
- Running back Jordan Canzeri was a full participant in practice once again and looked spry. He should be ready and available for the game on Friday. Ike Boettger has been taking a lot of snaps with the first unit at right tackle. He appears to be good to go if called upon.
- It was interesting seeing the position coaches float around. I even saw wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy orchestrating some drills alongside tight ends coach LeVar Woods with the running backs and tight ends.
- Defensive coordinator Phil Parker is very hands-on with the defensive backs. He doesn't have someone toss the balls in drills, he's the one throwing the ball around to the defensive backs in drills which is not always typical at this level. He's very hands-on and involved. Seth Wallace is also heavily involved with this position group. Jim Reid is a very energetic coach as well. Reese Morgan is more laid back and has more of a surgical approach in how he handles his defensive linemen.
- We observed some one on ones which usually isn't the case so that could be the reason for this next tidbit but head coach Kirk Ferentz was especially vocal at practice today, especially with the defensive backs. He didn't float over to the offense at all but spent all of the time we saw with the defense. He rode the defensive backs hard today and even laid into Josh Jackson and Jordan Lomax some for bobbling the ball in catching drills.
- As far as some youngsters to keep an eye on, the open linebacker spot for next year is going to be quite a ride. That is going to be some kind of battle between Jack Hockaday and Aaron Mends. Mends is extremely athletic, well-built, and has a ton of potential, while Hockaday has been raved about by some of his teammates and one the coaches are very high on as well. Linebacker will be a position of nice depth headed into next season.
- I know he has played some this year so it is already apparent, and it was iterated over and over during fall camp, but James Daniels is quite a specimen. He is not your average true freshman at all and though he's contributed quite a bit as a first year player, he has a ton of great football ahead of him.
- The wide receiver position has some nice young talent as well. Jerminic Smith has a chance to be a very, very good one before it is all said and done. Physically, Emmanuel Ogwo and Adrian Falconer look the part as well. They just aren't as technically advanced as Jerminic at this stage. If you're wondering why Jerminic hasn't played more this year, remember he only knows one receiver spot right now and Tevaun Smith isn't giving up a lot of snaps because of how important he is to the team as a consistent vertical threat.
- Up the middle on defense will not be a concern heading into next year with tackles Jaleel Johnson and Nathan Bazata coming back, inside linebacker Josey Jewell still having two more years of eligibility, and Miles Taylor hanging around, too. They'll only be losing Jordan Lomax. The vacant safety spot should be Brandon Snyder's to lose. They'll just want to create more depth behind Jaleel and Bazata. Faith Ekakitie played some this year but Michael Slater is one to watch for next year.
- The defensive end position will be a question mark for the defense. They're undersized there right now by starting both Parker Hesse and Nate Meier, and with Meier being a senior, there's playing time to be had. Matt Nelson is someone that will be expected to take the reins and will add much needed size. The offseason will be a big one for him. They'll need more there, though. If Drew Ott would return that would solve a lot of issues but I wouldn't count on it.
- If Desmond King opts to leap to the NFL they'll have to fill his void and the likely candidates there would be Maurice Fleming and Josh Jackson. Jackson has shown some glimpses of a pretty good ball player this year and he very well could be the favorite if King departs.