Howe: Observations, Opinions, Wise Guy

HN columnist Rob Howe took in Iowa's Spring "Game" on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. In the first installment of what will be a regular column, Howe offers up his Observations, Opinions and Wise Guy Comments. In this edition, read what Quarterback Jake Christensen put the odds at that he'll start this fall, find out what ex-Hawks watched the game live and see who stood out in the spring finale.

After long considering the creation of a standard column with a catchy theme, the time has come when it can longer be put off. In lieu of being a good enough writer to always formulate an idea into a coherent piece, those in the business succumb to laziness and compose a "Best of…" or "Top 10".

Saturday's Spring "Game" at Kinnick Stadium produced many unrelated thoughts racing through my head as I dodged the rain as best I could before heading to the press box. What better way to organize them than to stick them in a mish-mash column that allows me to follow my muddled mind – a scary though, indeed.

There must be a certain amount of order to everything, though. The items in this column will fall into three categories – Opinion, Observation and Wise Guy Comment. Who knows? Maybe all three will be in play for some entries.

Here we go…

Observation: Iowa's offensive line still is an issue. I know there are injuries across the front, but Dan Doering and Kyle Calloway were getting consistently beaten. Kirk Ferentz said after the "game" that he turned the defense loose to see how the offense would handle it. He got his answer – not well. And a lot of times, the defense wasn't doing anything tricky. Calloway and others just got beat badly in one-on-one blocking situations against second- and third-team defensive linemen.

Opinion: The Iowa offense will struggle again this season. I know it's only spring, but the unit is far from having consistent line play and lacks playmakers.

Observation: The defense most always looks better than the offense in these things, but there seemed to be an edge to this group that's been missing the last few years. Tyler Sash and Lance Tillison, in particular, brought some big hits and the defensive line and linebacker positions offer solid depth.

Opinion: The coaches have been reluctant to rotate players on the defensive line and at linebacker in the past. It would be nice if they backed off of that stance this year. When the offense struggled in 2007, the defense wore down. If it happens again, shame on the staff.

Opinion: Paki O'Meara and Nate Guillory are not the answer in terms of a feature back. Both guys can contribute, but neither is a 20-25 carry-a-game guy.

Observation: Guillory might be small, but he doesn't lack toughness. Sash flew in from the secondary to lay the wood and Guillory stood his ground, sending the safety to the sideline.

Observation: A lot of ex-Hawkeyes made there way to Iowa City to take in the action. Bob Sanders, Nate Kaeding, Chad Greenway, Ed Hinkel, Tim Dwight, Marcus Schnoor, LeVar Woods and Alonzo Cunningham all looked on. Anthony Herron worked the game for the Big Ten Network.

Wise Guy Comment: Too bad these guys are out of eligibility.

Observation: Jake Christensen continues to look uncomfortable in this offense. His first pass of the day was returned 53 yards for a TD by Chris Rowell. The junior did complete some nice passes late in the day, but he also seemed on a different page than his receivers far too often. One play in particular, where he threw the ball one way and Trey Stross ran the other, brought back bad memories. He then waved at Stross in disgust.

Opinion: This quarterback competition might be a little closer than I first thought. Stanzi looked pretty poised on Saturday. Also, in talking with Andy Brodell and Trey Stross, they seem to think it's an open race with nothing having been resolved this spring.

Observation: Third-string QB Marvin McNutt received the biggest applause from the fans of all three quarterbacks. Some things never change.

Opinion: McNutt will need at least another season of development before he's ready for game action.

Observation: I saw David Blackwell and Trent Mossbrucker walking around the field. Blackwell looked pretty thick. Mossbrucker looked like a kicker.

Opinion: Mossbrucker will come in and make a strong push to win the kicking job. I'm not sure that Daniel Murray or Austin Signor has enough consistency.

Wise Guy Comment: The good news is that the offense might not make it into field goal range very often and extra points could be rare. Therefore, there will be fewer chances to miss.

Observation: Some guys appeared much more "Doyalized" than I remember them being in the fall. Stross looks a lot bigger. Mitch King actually looks bigger as does A.J. Edds. Conversely, Tyler Nielsen definitely has some growing up to do.

Observation: When asked by a reporter what he felt his chances were to be the starter when the season starts, Christensen sternly responded with "100 percent."

Wise Guy Comment: He'd get a lot of action on the other side of that bet.

Observation: The no-alcohol policy in the university parking lots turned into a PR mess for the school. It would have been nice for them to notify fans in the many press releases put out during the week.

Wise Guy Comment: Nobody should be made to watch this team sober.

Wise Guy Comment: The fans were just following the lead of the players by consuming adult beverages.

Wise Guy Comment: Maybe the ban was the necessary example needing to be set for the Hawkeyes.

I wish the last three comments were originals. I heard them around the field on Saturday.

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