The Rob Report: Kids Day

Senior writer Rob Howe offers some news and views from Saturday's Kids' Day open scrimmage at Kinnick Stadium. Find out some of the recruits that attended the event, get an injury update, learn of a couple of players that left the program, see how the punters matched up, read a review of some of the action at key positions still up in the air and more in this HN.com premium package.

INVITED GUESTS: A large group of recruiting guests were assembled in the Northwest Corner of the stadium before scrimmage. Here are the name tags I was able to read: Julian Vandervelde, Dave Wardenburg, Matt Slater, Anthony Durr, Curt Greenley, Matt Warner, Josh Koeppell, Anthony Satella, Brett Greenwood, Dennis Bergland, Keeton Fry, Brett Evans, Mike O'Connell, Daniel Murray.

I also saw Ted Bentlers two younger brothers. There also was a recruits by the last name of Stevens that was on the sidelines with his parents and another young man to which the Iowa people were paying quite a bit of attention. Jon is efforting information on the last two guys.

INJURIES: Coach Ferentz said no injuries were serious. Marcus Wilson, Tom Busch, Matt Melloy, Scott Chandler, Jovon Johnson, Justin Collins, David Walker and Dace Richardson all were held out of some or all of Saturday's scrimmage/practice.

THEY GONE: Iowa came to Saturday's scrimmage without two players that played in the spring. Defensive lineman George Eshareturi has decided to transfer to a school closer to his New York home, according to Coach Ferentz.

Todd Plagman, an offensive lineman, told the coaches that he's not sure he wants to play football anymore. Coach Ferentz said that he hopes the former walk-on changes his mind and is leaving the door open for him to do so.

PUNTING BATTLE: Here are the punts for each guy as close I could get them:

John Gallery: 34, 35, 38, 46, 47, 35, 58, 49, 36 = 42.0 average

Andy Fenstermaker: 30, 31, 39, 35, 50, 44, 40, 40, 45 = 39.3 average

Please note that there was a pretty stiff wind these guys were punting into on occasions.

Both guys were inconsistent. I'm a little worried about this position, still. I think it's a key for us to find adequate punting. For the crap David Bradley took, some of it deserved, he was one of the brightest stars in the last two bowl games, and I think he was the MVP of the Cap 1 Bowl.

10 OBSERVATIONS:

1. MA'QUAN DAWKINS– Seemed forgotten about with the influx of new young defensive backs, but the junior looked very good and in the form that earned in playing time in 2003 before he tore his ACL. He intercepted a Drew Tate pass on Saturday and really looked strong in coverage. I would expect to see him on the field in some nickel and dime packages this fall, and if Allen is suspended or Jovon's injury lingers, this kid can step in and contribute.

2. RUNNING BACK – As I've said before and others have concurred, AY is the most talented back. But from what I gathered on Saturday, Marques Simmons is still the No. 1. I do expect that to change, and AY to take the spot as the season progresses. I like Simmons, but he just doesn't have the burst through the hole. I did like the way he waited for his blocks on Saturday, however.

Sims had the run of the day when he beat an out-of-position Merrick to the right edge and sprinted to the 2-yard line before Godfrey saved the TD. Sims did miss from blitzes, however, and allowed some sacks. He's got to improve in that area.

I thought Schnoor looked real solid Saturday. I know some folks on the boards have been down on this kid, saying he might be the odd man out. I have my doubts about that. I think he'll get some carries.

It was nice to see Champ back. He landed some nice blocks.

I think we're going to be able to run the ball this year once the O-Line solidifies its blocking schemes. And we looked stocked for the future. I thought Bailey, Robertson, Greene and Brown all looked sharp. Bailey is a beast.

3. SACKFEST: During one stretch, the defense sacked the quarterback on seven of 10 plays with two hurries. The offense gained four yards in that sequence. Granted there was a lot of blitzing, but Ewen, Spratt, Miles, Greenway and Brevi met very little resistance.

Tight end Brandon Myers got beat badly on two of the sacks and heard it from position coach Eric Johnson. The freshman looks good in routes, but he better sharpen up his blocking if he wants to get on the field.

4. SPEAKING OF TIGHT END: I was very impressed with Tony Moeaki. It was just a small sampling, but the kid looks like everything he was cracked up to be. I'm not going to roll the Dallas Clark comparison out there, but this kid runs a smooth route. It's almost like a glide. He has good size and is an adequate blocker at this point. It will be interesting to see what decision the coaches make with him because he looks like he could contribute right away.

5. RECEIVERS: Grigsby looks like the third man. He doesn't do anything flashy, but he runs strong routes and consistently catches the ball. I noticed Tate really looking for him when under heavy rush. Calvin Davis looked good at times, but dropped one pass and ran the wrong route on another. Brodell also looked pretty good, although he dropped a ball he should have caught. He has pretty good size, kind of like Melloy with more speed. McCollom still needs some work on getting off blocks, which his crucial to the slot position.

6. A.G.H. – AFTER GREENWAY AND HODGE: There was talk that Norm Parker might call it a career when his two superstars left, but he recently told me he has some good ones coming. He's telling the truth when you get a look at Mike Klinkenborg and Mike Humpel. These two guys look like players. I also liked what I saw from Gavin McGrath and Chris Kuehl. They have potential. We certainly need to add some depth at the position, but I don't think the end of the work is coming.

It probably will be a long time until we see the likes of Greenway and Hodge around here. But we also lost other guys that were are in Clark, Robert Gallery, Nate Kaeding and Bob Sanders, and we found ways to replace them.

7. THE SNAKE: It was tough to get a real good look at Jake Christensen on Saturday as Tate and Manson took most of the reps. Shoot, Phillips might have had more reps. But the kid has a cannon and a strong build. He does need to work on touch and not drill the ball to everyone.

8. INSIDE OUT: I really liked what I saw from the interior guys on the D-line. Ewen is a menace as is Kroul. I also was impressed by Mitch King and Alex Willcox. It looked like Mattison might see some time inside as well. I'm not sure we'll see him this year, but Kanellis caused problems when he was in there. He closed out the scrimmage with a sack.

9. GIVE IT TIME: I know the O-line often looked like Swiss Cheese on Saturday, but give it time. In a zone blocking scheme, it takes reps to acquire the continuity needed to make the process go smoothly. This group could experience some struggles early in the season, much like what happened in 2003, but pick it up around midseason. And I know there's no Gallery this time, but this group has more experience overall.

SCOREBOARD: This thing is amazing. The sound system is extremely powerful and the screen is enormous. They're going to provide stats throughout the game on it, and also have a stat board in the Northwest corner with an additional scoreboard in the Northeast corner. The field looked super impressive Saturday, especially when looking South. I'm ready for some football. Only two weeks to go.


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