The defense defeated the offense 18-16 in the Iowa Spring Game on Saturday afternoon. The Hawkeyes dealt with a handful of injuries, some stemming from the previous season, but they were able to accomplish a lot of what they wanted to during the Spring and now it's full steam ahead towards the summer period.
Hawkeye Insider was on hand for the Spring Game and gives their takeaways.
SHOULD BE ANOTHER STRONG YEAR AT CORNERBACK
With Greg Mabin sidelined with an injury, Josh Jackson limited, and Maurice Fleming leaving the program, Iowa was really grasping near the bottom of the barrel at cornerback during spring football. When the pads were on they had Desmond King but nothing proven outside of him. In steps Detroit-area corner Michael Ojemudia who arrived on campus last year and redshirted. He's still a long ways from the player he can become but he showed flashes that he can become a very, very good player in Iowa City. Having Ojemudia as the fourth corner is not much of a liability at all. He fits what they want and he'll play this season.
JEWELL MAY BE THE TEAM'S BEST PLAYER
Iowa has some star power this upcoming season with some national names such as C.J. Beathard and Desmond King. It became less of a secret towards the end of last season, and it was backed up by him garnering permanent captainship as a sophomore, but Josey Jewell belongs in that company. He's possibly the best player on the team. Now it's not a competition to see who it is but it shows just how special he may be if he's elevating his game to that level. He's outstanding. He's got all-conference and possibly all-american written all over him.
VERY LITTLE DROP-OFF WITH BRANDON SNYDER AT FS
This seems to be headed into one of those walk-on turned excellent safety stories that Iowa is famous for. Jordan Lomax was a very good player for the Hawkeyes but Snyder seems more than ready for the job. He needs to elevate his game just a little more before the season starts but that is a place that is more than attainable at this time. I don't see much of a drop-off, if any, with him on the field this year.
MENDS GETTING COMFORTABLE
A storyline headed into the Spring was who wins the weakside linebacker position vacated by Cole Fisher. It was between Aaron Mends and Jack Hockaday and it definitely seems like Mends is running away with the gig. He's a fun player to watch because of how quick and explosive he is. He gives the defense even more athleticism. Judging by his confidence and comfort that he plays and operates with now in addition to the coaches' comments about him, I think it's his job to lose in the Fall and it would be a shock if he's not the starter in the opener.
LITTLE DEPTH ALONG THE DEFENSIVE LINE
This would be the one concern on the defense. The linebackers will have depth with Hockaday and Bower behind the three starters. The corners are littered with players more than capable of stepping in and contributing. The defensive line is another story. Parker Hesse is a full-effort and intense player. Jaleel Johnson and Nathan Bazata quietly had strong campaigns a season ago. Outside of those three, there's question marks. They want more pass rushing out of Matt Nelson and Anthony Nelson. Faith Ekakitie spells the starting defensive tackles and is reliable. Pass rushing is an emphasis and there not as close to what they want from this position as they'd like.
OFFENSIVE LINE WILL BE FINE
It looked rough during the Spring Game but James Daniels is out and Sean Welsh didn't play. Keegan Render, who has stepped in for Daniels thus far, also did not suit up. That left some key bodies out of the unit that they'll need protect C.J. Beathard. I don't see any concern here once Daniels, Welsh, and Render are on the field. The key will be their health and they should be good to go by fall camp.
IMPROVEMENT NEEDED AT WR
The concern on defense is the line and for the offense it is the wide receiver position. Jerminic Smith is the deep threat but he still has a ways to go in becoming more consistent and savvy like they had a year ago with Tevaun Smith. Matt VandeBerg is super reliable and you know what you'll get from him. Riley McCarron is a lot like VandeBerg, reliable and sure-handed. But that's not a lot of consistent explosion when it comes to the position. Others need to step up and supplement this trio. Jay Scheel has emerged as the next guy and consistency is what he's lacking as well. He knows two different wideout spots now which should help him get on the field more. Depth is needed here and consistency.
What Iowa does not have at receiver, they have at running back. Depth is there with LeShun Daniels, Akrum Wadley, and Derrick Mitchell. It would have been nice for Mitchell to be available during the Spring so that he could prove to the coaches he wasn't one-dimensional and could be more than just a third-down back. Daniels is a model of consistency and has a good balance of pretty good speed as well as power. Wadley is explosive and is a big play waiting to happen. There's firepower here and a level of physicality. The key will be health. Having a full year of full health from Daniels and Wadley would suit the Hawkeyes very well. That has yet to happen but they'll need it this year.