Posted by: marcmwm | August 15, 2008

Scrimmage primer . . .

We’ll get a look. How much of a look, how many answers? We’ll get a look.

Here’s tomorrow’s story:

   The Hawkeyes have been sweating it out in practice for nearly two weeks now. Today, they’ll present something, an outline and maybe a few final answers.
   It’s only an open practice. And it’s still two weeks until the season opener against Maine. But some of questions surrounding the 2008 Hawkeyes will come with uniform numbers after today’s affair at Kinnick Stadium.
    One thing to keep in mind, Iowa just held a scrimmage on Tuesday, so who knows how “live” today’s practice might be. A Tuesday-Saturday turnaround could keep a few of the veterans (defensive tackles Mitch King and Matt Kroul) out of heavy contact situations.
    Here are some noteworthy outlines and finals answers on display:
     1. The Big Ten Network’s stop at Iowa’s practice last week showed a starting offensive line of (left to right) tackle Bryan Bulaga, guard Seth Olsen, center Rob Bruggeman, guard Dan Doering and tackle Kyle Calloway. That was last week, though, a month ago in the heat of camp competition. Andy Kuempel, Rafael Eubanks and Julian Vandervelde are the other names in serious contention. Travis Meade and Wesley Aeschliman could also find their way to playing time.
    The overall improvement of Iowa’s offense (last in the Big Ten in scoring and total offense in ’07) rides on this group. They know it. No reason to beat around the bush here.
    2. After missing a practice or two because of a scalp infection, junior Shonn Greene seems primed to take over at running back. He’s seemed to have brushed off a year’s layoff, scoring two touchdowns during Tuesday’s scrimmage. Sophomore walk-on Paki O’Meara is solidly in the mix. It will be interesting to see where junior college transfer Nate Guillory fits in today.
     A decision will have to be made on a trio of freshmen, Jeff Brinson, Jewel Hampton and Adam Robinson. One or two will play and one will likely red-shirt, just for staggering purposes.
     3. This will be the first look into the competition at quarterback. Obviously, junior Jake Christensen is the incumbent, posting a 7-6 record as a starter in his two seasons. His numbers weren’t great last year, and coach Kirk Ferentz has said Iowa needs more production out of quarterback. Sophomore Ricky Stanzi is practicing after suffering a sprained shoulder on July 18.
    Stanzi, who has yet to complete a pass in his career, is going to have to show tremendous improvement to challenge Christensen.
    The battle within the battle here is No. 3 QB. The race includes redshirt freshman Marvin McNutt and true freshmen James Vandenberg and John Wienke. It’ll be interesting to see if there is some staggering here, too.

    4. If kicker doesn’t make you nervous, then your career as tightrope walker must be going well.
    Sophomore Daniel Murray has a short resume — 7 of 10 field goals with one blocked and 16 of 18 PATs. Here are some stats you have to like, 3 of 4 from 40 to 49 yards and 3 of 4 from 30 to 39 yards. The 1-for-2 from 20 to 29 yards isn[‘]t great, but it’s not a killer. Can’t miss extra points, though.
    True freshman Trent Mossbrucker has no resume. At Mooresville (Ind.) High School, he converted 27 of 38 field goals and had 87 career touchbacks on kickoffs.
    The duties could be split, but this is one competition that can be judged, at least a little bit, today.
    5. One element that is difficult to gauge in a scrimmage setting is special teams, an area that Ferentz identified as a “needs improvement” after a lackluster 2007.
     Here are some players who could start building their resumes on special teams this season: linebackers Dezman Moses, Tyler Nielsen, Jeff Tarpinian and Jeremiha Hunter, safeties Diauntae Morrow and Tyler Sash and running backs Jayme Murphy (a standout in this role last year) and Guillory.
     6. Strong safety has a “help wanted” sign up. Senior Harold Dalton started last season, but he’s listed as even with sophomore Lance Tillison with Sash, a redshirt freshman, also in the running.
     7. It’ll be interesting to see where the competition at middle and weakside linebacker is. Sophomore Jacody Coleman and junior Pat Angerer are in the middle. Tarpinian and Hunter are on the weakside.
     8. Lively competition also exists at right cornerback. Senior Drew Gardner and sophomore Jordan Bernstine are the competitors. Bernstine also will get a look at kickoff returns.
     9. Tight end is sort of a mystery. Reports have surfaced out of camp that senior Tony Moeaki has suffered a foot injury. Iowa officials haven’t commented, but Moeaki wasn’t mentioned by offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe in a story about Tuesday’s scrimmage on Iowa’s own website, Hawkeyesports.com.
     Sophomore Allen Reisner was mentioned for a diving TD grab in the back of the end zone.
     10. Iowa’s front four should be a strength. King and Kroul are cornerstones with all-Big Ten potential. Ends Christian Ballard and Adrian Clayborn showed promise in limited duty last season.
      But the question here is depth. The No. 3 spot at tackle and end will be interesting. Is there enough depth for a steady rotation?

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Responses

  1. Good analysis. I agree, the O-Line has got to show the greatest improvement, Jake needs a couple extra seconds.
    I’m also hoping Amari Spievey figures heavily in the D-back mix–way too much talent in the Big Ten at WR. Anxious to read your observations.

  2. Hello Marc. Just stumbling around the web here before I go to Ole Miss’ scrimmage. What’s practice coverage like for you guys? Ole Miss is open for 20 minutes, 10 of which is stretching, then we leave and return for a brief media opportunity later.

    Parrish Alford
    Daily Journal
    Tupelo, MS

  3. Hey DJ,

    Access here is not good. Practices are mostly closed. During the season, we get about an hour on Tuesday and that’s about it.

    It pushes attention toward off-field issues and enterprise. If I were a coach, I’d rather have a feature on my No. 3 cornerback than a issue/enterprise reporting, but this is how they’ve always done it. This is my 10th year on the beat, so I make due. It’s still fun, but I wish it were better.

    Have a good season. I think the Rebs could rebound.

  4. Pete,

    Thanks for dropping in.

    Amari Spievey did factor in today and might have to be a player early. Jordan Bernstine walked off the field with a hamstring injury. He’s stuggled with it all through camp. Willie Lowe and Shaun Prater look like true frosh who will play.

    The offensive line was atrocious today, but it was missing Bryan Bulaga, who was out with what Ferentz called a “bone contusion.”

    There is a lot of work to do.

    More soon.


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