The Rob Report

All last season, Senior Writer Rob Howe supplied members with his views and observations from the press box in what we called "The Rob Report." Rob attended Saturday's spring fling and filed this report from sun-drenched Kinnick Stadium. We're going to make this one free for all visitors to see what our subscribers look forward to all season long. Whether the Hawkeyes are home or away this fall, will be there.

Injury Report:A lot of guys hobbled on and off of the field throughout the day, but the most serious injury was sustained by Ben Gates. The former TE turned OL lay basically motionless on the field for several minutes with 6:54 to play in the second quarter. He was helped off of the field with an injury to his left leg and minutes later left for the locker room on crutches.

LG Mike Jones sprained his right ankle during the controlled scrimmage and never got a chance to see action in the Hawkeyes' new version of the spring game - two 12-minute quarters. The true sophomore from Illinois said that it was nothing serious and that he would be fine.

When Jones went out, Gates came in at right guard where Ben Cronin was playing before taking over Jones' left guard spot.

Big Shoes to Fill:LT Lee Gray and Kyle Schlicher were presented with the unenviable tasks of replacing two of the top players in Iowa history - Robert Gallery and Nate Kaeding. Both players looked really good on Saturday.

The first-team offense looked really strong running to Gray's side, including a 69-touchdown sprint by fourth-team running back Marques Simmons.

Schlicher connected on both of his field goal attempts, including an impressive 46-yarder into the wind. His kick from 38 yards had plenty of leg on it. He was hitting from 50 in the warmups. He did not kick off.

Gray and Schlicher also gave good answers as to how they would replace Hawkeye legends.

Schlicher credited Kaeding for all of his accomplishments, but said that he viewed Nate differently than everybody else did. Kyle said he saw Nate as a friend and a mentor, not the all-American everybody else ssaw. That has kept things in perspective for him.

Gray said that there's no way to be Gallery. That's just too much to handle. He's just going to work to be the best that he can be.

Quarterback Competition:I thought that all of the quarterbacks looked good. That said, many of Iowa's top defenders - Hodge, Greeway, Roth, Considine, etc. played very little. Here's a closer view of each performance on Saturday:

Drew Tate - After a 2-5 start, the Texas Tornado settled down to compete his final three passes. He did not throw any touchdowns, but showed a good command of the offense. He engineered the drive ending in Simmons' long run and another capped by a 2-yard TD plunge by A.J. Johnson. His top completion came on a third-and-long play where he hit Warren Holloway for a first down while operating out of the shotgun.

Jason Manson - In my opinion, he stole the show. I had him completing all seven of his pass attempts (I might have missed an incompletion. We had to keep our own stats). The Connecticut Kid tossed two touchdown passes - 60 yards to Ed Hinkel, 5 yards to Grigsby. He moved well, looked like he had command of the offense and showed he can make the throws.

Eric McCollom - He completed 2 of his 4 pass attempts, including a 45-yarder to Grigsby, who made a really nice catch on a ball that was perfectly placed between two defenders. The two likely would have hooked up on an almost identical play minutes later, but Chigozie Ejiasi interferred with Grigsby. McCollom probably would have added several nice runs as he scrambled into the clear before scrimmage rules whistled the plays dead.

Cy Phillips - He worked with some of the offensive players furthest down the depth chart, but still completed 2 of his 4 passes. Showed a strong arm.

Hanging with Herb:Grigsby really looked good. At a position where Coach Ferentz is looking for playmakers to emerge, the kid from Mayflower, Ark. really took a big step Saturday. He showed a strong ability to get deep and looks like he has put some meat on his bones since arriving here late last summer.

Holloway also caught the ball well and could be this year's Ochoa. He took a double-reverse 33 yards.

This & That:

Iowa did let its punters work on Saturday, although there weren't any returns. John Gallery looks to have a very strong leg. Robert's younger brother got some serious hangtime on a couple of kicks.

Although they didn't return any punts, Jovon Johnson and Albert Young were the two guys back deep to receive them. Remember that KF put Young back deep last season before he hurt a knee in training camp.

Several redshirt freshmen walk-ons are trying to work their way into the wide receiver rotation. Chris Aldrich (Oelwein) caught a pass, and Kennon Christian (Davenport North) and Kyle Riffel (Wichita, Kan.) also saw action.

Expect to see a lot of redshirt freshman DT Alex Willcox in the defensive line rotation this season. The West Des Moines Valley graduate possesses a motor that just keeps going and was causing all kinds of problems for the offense Saturday.

The top three RBs saw very little action in Saturday's two 12-minute quarters. Starter Jermelle Lewis did not carry the ball, while top backups Marcus Schnoor and Young each toted it once. Simmons, Cory Mack and Sam Brownlee carried most of the load. With Simmons as No. 4 right now, the Hawkeyes are very well stocked at the position.

Ed Miles looked real good. He put a hit on James Townsend that caused a fumble and got loose for a sack.

An offense that often times gets called vanilla added some color Saturday. On a second and short from the five, the Hawkeyes lined up in a shotgun with three wides. Manson hit Grigsby for touchdown underneath on the play. There also were a lot of passes thrown and that crazy double reverse.

A.J. Johnson might really like his switch from RB to FB. He landed in the end zone on two short runs and might have found his niche.

Nobody had an exact count on Saturday's crowd, but press box estimates settled in at around 28,000. And everybody, including Jon Miller, got a good head start on their summer tans as the sun shined with temps in the mid-80s.

Hawkeye Insider Top Stories