Spring Practice Notes

The Iowa Hawkeyes wrapped up spring practice on Saturday with a workout open to the media and invited guests (mostly family and recruits). Although the action looked sloppy at times, it was inspiring to see some strong performances from new faces. Get the inside scoop on how the new defensive line looked, who has emerged at wide receiver, what running back showed his stuff, some recruits in attendance, and much more in this HN.com Notes Package.

Overall, Saturday's practice probably earned a B- Grade from this observer's viewpoint. While there were plenty of positive highlights, the guys showed plenty of rust and will have plenty of work to do before Ball State rolls into town in early September.

Luckily, there remains plenty of time to get that done. Kirk Ferentz and his staff have shown the ability to rally the troops. The head coach used a tone that reflected his disappointment in the sloppy play throughout Saturday's drills.

Before letting them exit the final workout of the spring, he told them to ignore all of the great (stuff) being said about the team in the national media and concentrate in the offseason on doing the things needed to be a high caliber football team this fall.


Tight end/H-Back seemed to get a lot of action in the passing game on Saturday. Scott Chandler moved well, looked noticeably bigger and threw some nice blocks, although he still needs work in that area.

Redshirt Freshman Brandon Myers also looked sharp in pass receiving. He hauled in two memorable balls and showed good speed after the catch. He did have a drop that seemed to make the coaches cringe, which made me wonder if the youngster might still have some lapses in concentration.


Hoping to not finish second to last in Division I rushing again, the Hawkeyes looked determined to get their running game plenty of work on Saturday. True sophomore Damien Sims, who ran with the twos, looked very sharp. He showed the talent to break the big run and work up inside.

Marques Simmons ran as the No. 1 RB on Saturday. He looked strong, but really struggled in pass catching. Sims showed a nice ability to receive.

Sam Brownlee didn't get any reps in the running game. He was employed as a blocker in punt drills. Adolphus Shelton ran at No. 3.


Iowa looks like it might have the most talented depth at receiver in the Ferentz Era. And don't be surprised if sophomore Herb Grigsby emerges as a nice slot option this year. He got quite a few reps with Clinton Solomon and Ed Hinkel when Iowa went three wides.

Calvin Davis also looked like a threat again. After a solid freshman season, the Iowa City native missed most of last season with injury. He brought down a sweet 40-yarder Saturday on a beautiful ball by Drew Tate.

We also got good looks at Tyler Fanucchi, James Townsend and Andy Brodell. Fanucchi looked like the best of that group. Townsend appeared to run the wrong route on a couple of occasions, and Brodell appears to need more maturity from a physical standpoint.


Tate looked good for the most part, but lacked concentration on a couple of plays. Chad Greenway and Jovon Johnson each intercepted a pass.

Jason Manson took all of the other reps at QB. It makes you wonder if incoming freshman Jake Christiensen might move right into the No. 3 spot.


Speaking of Christiensen, he was joined by many of the recruits that helped Iowa achieve a No. 8 national ranking in February. Dan Doering, Dace Richardson, Tony Moeaki, Ryan Bain and Rafael Eubanks were among those spotted in the crowd on Saturday.


Though Brian Ferentz said nothing is official, it looks like he will be switching back to center with last year's C Mike Elgin shifting over to right guard. Elgin and Ferentz both looked like they have bulked up.

Saturday starting line also included David Walker (looked great), Mike Jones and Ben Gates, who stepped in for injured Lee Gray. Gates played very well Saturday, really battling with Kenny Iwebema.

With experienced guys like Todd Plagman and Ben Cronin on the second team, fans should feel pretty good about the offensive line depth.


Many eyes were focused on the D-line Saturday, and the group did pretty well. Iowa lost its starting front four to graduation, and most analysts feel that the progress of the new guys could determine the team's success.

Iwebema looks like a cross between Howard Hodges and Derreck Robinson physically. If he can play as well as those guys, the Hawkeyes will take it.

Freshman Matt Kroul has been turning heads since he walked on campus last fall, and he held down a No. 1 DT spot this spring along with Nate Roos . Jacob Spratt owned the other DE spot opposite Iwebema while starter Bryan Mattison recovers from a broken ankle.

Ted Bentler also received reps at first team tackle and end. Expect Iowa to use more of an eight-man rotation on the D-Line this fall.

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