IOWA CITY — After last week’s scrimmage, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz started thinking aloud, about how young his team is and how, maybe, it could use another dress rehearsal in Kinnick Stadium.
That brings us to today’s scrimmage — Kinnick Stadium gates open at 11 a.m. — which will give you glimpse No. 2 of the 2012 Hawkeyes. Last week was as much about who wasn’t there as who was.
As of Wednesday’s full-gear practice under the lights at Kinnick, true freshmen running backs Greg Garmon, Barkley Hill and Michael Malloy were dressed and participating. They weren’t at Kinnick last weekend. Why are they important? They are the depth chart, minus sophomore Damon Bullock and junior Andre Dawson.
Also, true freshman wide receiver Reese Fleming was on the practice field this week after missing last Saturday. Cornerback B.J. Lowery (sprain) and linebacker Quinton Alston (sprain) sat out last week with injuries and are likely out today. Tackle Brett Van Sloten, missing from photos released from camp by UI sports, also could be iffy.
1. Running backs — When Ferentz said “it’s important for the young guys, they need to have fans here” while toying with the idea of a second open scrimmage last week, he might as well have said, “Hey, I need to find out what’s going on at running back.”
1.1 — No. 26 in the practice pictures you’ve been seeing at Hawkeyesports.com is Malloy. He’s a walk-on who could easily earn himself a scholarship in January with contributions this fall.
1.2 — Let’s count the touches for running backs. It won’t tell us much at this stage, but it will be interesting to see a back besides Bullock take a meaningful practice carry.
1.3 — Fullback Brad Rogers has been absent from practice. He had a red jersey on during the Big Ten Network’s show Iowa City. He wasn’t at last week’s scrimmage. He hasn’t been in practice pictures, but did show up Friday and looks full-go.
1.4 — Junior Cody Sokol had a strong scrimmage last week. Redshirt freshman Jake Rudock was the first No. 2 into the scrimmage last week, does he win the No. 2 and send Sokol into a redshirt possibility?
2. Strong safety — It’s senior Tommy Donatell and sophomore Nico Law. They appear to be neck-and-neck, with a possible mix-and-match situation going on with Donatell in for pass and Law in on running downs.
Law has shown strike. The shot that knocked off Bullock’s helmet in the spring game, the hit he put on Garmon during the BTN show, Law can bring the heat. Can he cover? Does he know the defense?
Donatell is a fifth-year senior. He played outside linebacker last season when James Morris and Tyler Nielsen were hurt. He’s built up some trust and he’s clearly cashing that in for a serious look at strong safety.
2.1 — With Jordan Lomax’s injury, Iowa suddenly finds itself looking for a backup cornerback. Senior Greg Castillo will get the nod, but true freshman Sean Draper and Kevin Buford saw a lot of time with the No. 2s last week.
2.2 — Is the D-line rotation set at Dominic Alvis, Joe Gaglione and Steve Bigach as the three ends and Carl Davis, Darian Cooper and Louis Trinca-Pasat at tackles? It might be.
3. Punter — Iowa doesn’t run a lot of special teams during these open scrimmages, but if true freshman Connor Kornbrath is making a serious run at No. 1, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to have him punt in front of a crowd.
4. True freshmen — Let’s take a crack at true freshmen who might play: RB Greg Garmon, RB Barkley Hill, RB Michael Malloy, CB Sean Draper, CB Kevin Buford, WR Reese Fleming, WR Tevaun Smith, S Anthony Gair, LB Laron Taylor and LB Nate Meier.
That’s 10, with many of those names headed toward some share of special teams duty.
5. Offensive line No. 2s — True freshman Ryan Ward lined up as a No. 2 left tackle last week. The 6-5, 275-pounder has made a quick climb. With Van Sloten perhaps nursing an injury and junior Nolan MacMillan’s broken hand, sophomore Andrew Donnal could get his first extended look.