IOWA CITY — Everyone saw Don Shumpert’s fourth-down drop last week. His voice doesn’t rise much above a whisper when the subject comes up.
After stumbling all day, Iowa’s offense had a chance for redemption. Linebacker James Morris picked off a pass and returned it to Iowa’s 49. After three downs of misfires, it was fourth down.
Quarterback James Vandenberg looked to Shumpert, who jumped when he shouldn’t have and let the ball drop to the turf. It was one of eight drops for Iowa receivers last week.
“Of course, we’ve got to catch the ball,” Shumpert said. “That’s our job.”
Shumpert, a junior, came into the season with no career receptions. He’s now Iowa’s No. 3 wide receiver and has six receptions for 29 yards. He’s taking his first steps as a player in the spotlight. There are going to be missteps.
The theme this week for receivers was taking what they’ve shown in practice into a game.
“For some of them, it’s experience. For others, it’s a consistency thing,” Vandenberg said. “I think everybody can get more consistent if we’re going to score more.”
Another theme in regard to receivers was where are the freshmen? Iowa has four true freshmen — Reese Fleming, Tevaun Smith, Cameron Wilson and Greg Mabin — who could step in. Coach Kirk Ferentz said on his radio show Wednesday night that they would likely redshirt.
It’s a tougher transition than people think, Vandenberg said.
“In high school, you don’t really do anything,” he said. “You play against 5-6 kids who are really slow. You don’t understand what it means to be guarded by a guy like [Iowa cornerback] Micah Hyde, who has his hands on you the whole time you’re running a route, if you can still get out of your route when that’s happening.”
This week, Shumpert still has a job. Ferentz said drops haven’t affected the depth chart, at least not yet.
“It hurt when it happened,” Shumpert said of his drop. “It’s a new week, new game. It’s behind us, I’ve got to move on. It’s all concentration and looking the ball in.”