The one request I would make, in regards to Abdul Hodge, the Patton deal is over. I talked to Abdul after that and asked him if he wanted to have anything to say about that, and he preferred that we just move on. So, that's one request I'll make of you.
It's a real exciting time for last year's seniors. Those guys have really been training and working hard. I think we had six guys go to the combine. The draft is coming up here in a couple of weeks. Many of them have worked out for the NFL people on campus. It's probably safe to say that we'll have anywhere from five to eight guys drafted. My guess is when it's all said and done, we'll probably have 10-12 guys in camps. We certainly want to wish all of the graduating seniors the best of luck. It's fun for them to chase their dream.
On the injury front, we've had a couple of setbacks. Zach Gabelmann had a knee injury last week. It looks like he's going to have an ACL repair done today. We lost Tom Busch also this past Saturday. He's out for the spring and probably won't be full speed really until sometime in late May or early June. Other than that, we've just got the typical nicks and bruises.
Practice has gone fairly well. The weather has been great other than that first day when we got chased in with a thunderstorm.
Our team is moving forward. We're progressing. That being said, it's real evident that we're still a real young football team probably not unlike last year. We're still evaluating the team in a lot of areas as a staff. I can see that probably going right through preseason practice in August. We're looking to replace some starters. Some of those pictures are kind of clear. Others are a little bit cloudy at this point.
The other big challenge that we'll need to start working on here pretty soon is replacing some of that leadership that we lost. We had a lot of strong leaders in that senior class.
Just a word about Saturday's plan. I'm not quite sure what we're going to do. If you pressed me today, we'll probably do something like we did last year where we combined some practice situations and some scrimmage situations. We may go that route. I'd probably like to see where we are physically here in another day or two before we make any final decisions. we may just conduct a controlled scrimmage all the way through. We'll keep that up in the air right now.
We'll go at 1 o'clock. It will be great to have our fans out there. Typically if we have a good weather day, they're looking forward to getting out and taking a look at some of the players maybe they haven't seen a lot of. It will be great to have fans in the stands. Last year we had the ESPN deal on Thursday and then the game on Saturday. Hopefully the weather will cooperate a litttle bit better than it did a year ago.
We'll look forward to having fans there cheering whatever it is we're doing. Hopefully, it will be organized and look like a football team a little bit at least.
What is Tom Busch's injury?
He had a lower leg injury. He'd be out a couple of weeks if it was in the season right now.
How is Jonathan Babineaux doing?
Jonathan's doing a nice job; he really is. If we were pressed, he probably could have played in the bowl game. There really was no sense. He really hadn't practiced a whole lot then. He's had a real good out of season and has had a nice spring. He's playing extremely well. We expected that. He's a veteran guy and really knows what to do and has good ability. And the leg is holding up real well, too. If he can get through this spring, we should be in great shape with him next year.
Has he ever gotten down with his injuries?
I'm sure that he has. If you asked him, I'm sure that he would tell you he has. You feel bad whenever anybody has surgery, but for him to have two of them in his career like that was certainly disappointing. He was having a real good year last year. That being said, it probably makes you appreciate what you have in front of you a little bit more. I'm sure he feels that way. He sure practices that way.
How have the group of redshirt freshmen on the defensive line been doing?
That's a real important area for us right now. We have a veteran group up front. We lost two excellent players, Jared and Howard. But Tyler and Derreck both got a lot of chances to play last year. We're seniors right down to four freshmen behind them. It's real imperative that thos guys continue to move forward. They're getting a lot of good work this spring. We need to get them ready to play because they're going to have to next year.
What is the status of Chris Felder?
Chris has been nagged with some neck injuries. He had some problems with that in the fall. he's been in and out, basically, all spring. He's missed an awful lot of time in terms of contact work. It's real tough to evaluate him right now. We're hoping maybe that he can back on the field this week.
Can you talk about the guys that have changed positions?
The guys that have made moves seem to be fitting in right now. That said, they have a lot of work to do. Champ is a good example. It's a tough position change to move from fullback to tight end. He's got a guy right on him. He's got to learn how to block with a man right on his face as opposed to coming out of the backfield. He's going to be fine with that adjustment. I'm not sayingn that he's Dallas Clark. But when Dallas made the move it was quite an adjustment for him. The transition in the passing game has been a lot easier for him.
Tom Busch was really doing a great job back at the fullback. That's probably a little easier of a transition. He did that in high school as well. We really liked what we saw of him. He was really making a nice move there.
Hawkeye fans are optimistic.
I'm glad that they're optimistic right now. I'm ethused. We are too. But I'm not as optimistic right now because I'm looking at our football team. It's spring. That's the way that it should be in the spring. That's probably the way that it's always going to be. We have a lot of work to do right now. We'll see what happens.
How has Drew's spring gone?
Drew has had a real nice spring. That position, I'm real pleased with the way that they're practicing. Drew is really moving forward. Jason has really made some major strides, too. Both of those guys look more comfortable. With Jason it might even be more noticeable because he was here last spring. He's a totally different guy. That's what you would hope with experience. We saw a lot of good things in Drew in the fall. I think we're continuing to see that. And Eric and Cy are both making some strides, too. We're pretty solid there. If anything those guys have been a little too brazen at times throwing the football. They can't be taking those chances in the fall or we're not going to survive. You'd rather see them out there competing and trying to do some things instead of playing really tentative.
How have things progressed with the offense?
We're probably just trying to feel our way through things right now. We lost so many good players. Pete and Jermelle are really the only guys that have played, and Ed Hinkel has started quite a bit. We don't have a lot of proven experience on the offensive side of the football. A guy like Mike Jones that played six games is extremely young. Calvin Davis has played, but he's extremely young. We're just trying to move forward individually right now. Once we get that ball rolling, I think we'll be able to pull things together. Jermelle has missed a little bit of practice time this spring as well. He's probably our most veteran, proven, big-time player. So until you get them all together cohesively, it's going to be a little difficult to develop that personality. I'm confident that we'll get it.
I understand that Marcus Schnoor has looked pretty good
All of the backs have looked pretty good. Marcus has done a nice job. Albert Young is a guy that we're pleased with. Marques Simmons has done some good things, too; Cory Mack, Sam Brownlee.
You have more depth.
More depth than last year, that's for sure. I think we had Sam. And he wasn't allowed to get touched. I think we're in pretty good shape there.
Is Gates another one of these tight ends turned into offensive line success stories?
He's trying to be. Ben is a guy that we talked to right at the end of spring about moving in there. And he's really taken a hungry attitude at practice. We really like what he's doing. He's got an awful lot to learn right now, but I like the attitude.
Again, with the line. We're going to go into August with a few jobs up for grabs. It's going to be fun to watch and see how guys progress.
How will Schlicher step into Kaeding's shoes?
Kyle's a very capable kicker. We've felt that for quite some time. He had a little bit of an adjustment his first year here. But last year, he did a lot of good things in practice. He's been pretty consistent this spring. But as you know, it's a little different out there on the practice field than when you have 70,000 or 100,000 people watching you. But I like the way that he's working. His attitude has been good. We're real confident that he's going to be a good player. That said, we'll probably go through some growing pains. That's par for the course. Nate went through them. Jason Baker went through them. Dave Bradley has gone through them.
Does he have a backup?
Not on campus. How did Minnesota do it? What, did they get their guy from England? We're not going overseas looking for anybody. We've got a few prospects maybe in the fall we're going to look at.
Has Drew grown in a leadership role?
Yeah, he has. When he got here in August, he was trying to figure things out, like how to get to practice and those type of things. He's really growing in a lot of ways. Drew is not lacking for confidence. That's one thing that I'll say about Drew. That's a good thing, but also it can be something that you have to watch. But we like what we're seeing there. He's certainly more comfortable than he was in the fall. He's had the out of season to think about things and go back and review. We're really like what we're seeing. It's a little bit like we talked about with the kicker, it's a little different doing it on the practice field than it is on the game field. But this guy has thrown a lot of balls in his lifetime, which is an advantage, and grew up in a house where they talked a lot of football. That's helping him.
Has the strong safety position kind of settled itself out?
At this point, it's pretty clear we know who are starter is. Marcus has elevated himself to a pretty firm No. 1. Behind him (and Considine) we're trying to work things out. We're trying to see who the next best two guys are. This week will help us maybe with that evaluation.
Will the inexperience on the offensive line limit what you can do offensively?
The first year, the first two years, we had to do what we could do, which was to throw a lot of short passes before the quarterback got killed. We're beyond that. We can at least slow people down up front. We're confident when it's all said and done we'll have a pretty decent line. It might take a little time. Last year, it didn't happen overnight. We really had to progress as the season went on. We're looking at something similar to that. Although, if Dave Walker comes back that gives us another guy that has had some experience. Collectively, we're maybe a little stronger than we were last year at this time. But we don't have a Gallery either. You'v got to factor that into the equation.
What do the NFL guys ask you about Gallery?
Is he as good as he seems to be? Is he too good to be true? I really think that's Robert's best attribute. His physical abilities are pretty significant. But the kind of person he is and the kind of pride that he had; the work ethic; those intangibles that he possesses; the way that he was raised; to me those are his best attributes. Whoever drafts him can really count on what they're getting.
Will he help you in recruiting offensive linemen?
It's not hurting. Yeah, I think Robert has justabout run the gamut with just about every publication. Time magazine hasn't been in yet. But Sports Illustrated was here today. Peter King is here. He's really attracting a lot of attention. It's all well deserved. You look at all the guys that won these national awards for us the last two years, they're all just neat people, good people. It's fun when your best players are great guys, too. That does help recruiting, to answer the question. I hope it does. We'll find out.
Calvin Davis looks like he has temporarily lost his spot to Warren Holloway. Can you talk about that?
It's like a tell our players, depth charts at this time of year are pretty meaningless; just like in August they really don't count until we get ready to play a game. All four of the receivers listed, and we have another guy or two probably in the mix, we're trying to figure out who our top five or six are. It's all very close to call right now. All of the guys are doing some good things. They all have some things that they need to work on.
Have the young receivers really advanced this spring?
They're improving. They're progressing. But we're not ready to play. We'd have a hard time lining up right now and playing the way we want to play. That's an area that we've got to move forward with.
Do expect one or two of your redshirt freshmen to get into the defensive line rotation?
Yeah. They're going to have to play. We like to play more than four guys up front during a course of a game. Those guys have to be ready to accept that role. If you have an injury or something like that, they have to be ready to step in there and get the job done. Those guys don't have any choice. They have to grow up. They have to be ready. That's just going to be critical for us. That's true of a lot of the guys that were true freshmen last year.
Do you see some areas wheret the true freshmen might be able to crack the lineup?
There are going to be some openings in certain positions. Defensive line right now is an area where just by numbers that a guy will have an opportunity. And we'll be looking for backups in the secondary, linebacker, all those positions because typically thiose guys can help us on special teams as well. If I guy can come in and demonstrate that he can be a solid No. 2 on defense then I think we'll go that route. You worry about a guy like Sean Considine graduating in a year from now. We have to have somebody ready to go at that position.
Offensively, anything right now is open game. If anybody can come in and show that they can help and contribute, we'll keep an open mind. We're at a point right now where we'll take at least two weeks in August and make those determinations.
How much will the fans see Jermelle on Saturday?
Probably not a lot. Fred Russell, we weren't interested in getting him tackled during the spring (last year). We knew what Fred could do. We all know what Jermelle can do. We'll save him for the fall.