Spring practice preview: position by position

Published: March 25 2014 | 8:25 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 10:10 am in

Iowa football begins spring practice on Wednesday. Check out Hawkeye football reporter Marc Morehouse's extensive position-by-position breakdown of the team entering the spring.

The Quarterbacks:

"Did Iowa get enough out of the quarterback position?

That’s always going to be a question, but in ’14 it comes to the fore when you take a look at what Rudock will have to work with. Left tackle Brandon Scherff is a probably first-round NFL draft pick. Iowa returns its top three running backs and eight of its top 10 pass catchers. This season sets up well for Iowa as far as returning starters and favorable schedule go."

The Running Backs:

"The Hawkeyes played muscle ball. A big part of that was Weisman, who is an ATV to Canzeri’s Ducati. Weisman is built to run through imperfections (missed blocked, linebackers, arm tackles and general traffic). You look at Weisman and you see it. Don’t discount Canzeri’s strength (last year he benched 385 as a 190-pounder), but that is a factor that Weisman has over him, just as Canzeri has agility over Weisman."

The Wide Receivers:

"Iowa might not have a big-yardage receiver for awhile. Iowa’s offense has picked up the pace. Davis took a few down-field shots last season and likely will try to take more in the future (at some point, it will have to show dimension). Rudock was 67th in yards per completion last season, by the way, with 11.68 yards.

The thought from Davis is to have a fresh pack of receivers at the ready. So, when Powell runs 40 yards to blow the top off a defense, he can be replaced with a fresh . . . Smith or Andre Harris or whomever else is on the same speed plane as Powell."

The Offensive Line:

"There isn’t much depth here. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis acknowledged that during bowl prep. Of the 11 linemen on scholarship this spring, Scherff is the only one with extensive experience. Donnal has had moments at the spot. Ward had some minor mop-up duty last year. Walk-on Cole Croston (6-5, 250) has been in the two deeps. Incoming freshman Lucas LeGrand and Keegan Render will join the group this fall.

'The offensive line isn’t as deep as it needs to be,' Davis said. 'Offensive tackles, we’re still not where we need to be there. I feel like we’re pretty solid inside . . . but those tackles are hard [to find]. I don’t know that you ever have enough of them.'"

The Tight Ends:

"Duzey seems to be the fastest, but Kittle would give him a race. Hamilton can move. Krieger Coble is athletic. This position is going to be fun to watch coalesce. Fiedorowicz was such fixture at the position. The re-build (re-shape is probably the better word) here will be interesting, especially if TEs combine to catch 60-plus passes again this season."

The Defensive Line:

"Iowa returns 10.5 of the sacks 24 sacks it picked up last season. Iowa picked up 24 sacks because coordinator Phil Parker felt he had the personnel to go after the quarterback. No, it wasn’t the old days for Iowa’s defense, when Iowa had four NFL-caliber pass rushers on the D-line. This was pushing the right buttons with linebackers." 

The Linebackers:

"Iowa will probably miss the punch that Morris and Hitchens brought on the inside, but Alston and Spearman could have the same instinct for the ball. Both were used in the “Raider” pass rush package that Parker unveiled midway through last season.

Of this group, keep Fisher in mind. He’s a fourth-year junior who’s put his time in on special teams. There are lots of different body types, so expect Parker to experiment to see who can bring what. If the pass rush doesn’t come from the front four, Parker isn’t going to hope coverage lasts 10 seconds."

The Defensive Backs:

"Who’s the other corner?

Iowa has a few options here. The first might be Lomax (5-10, 200), who ended up missing four games because of the hamstring. He was the hands-down starter at corner before the injury and before the freshman bubble wrap came off King. Lomax did workout some at safety during bowl prep, but Parker didn’t say anything was permanent there. So, until a depth chart comes out that says otherwise, let’s leave Lomax, an economics major who was academic all-Big Ten, at corner."

The Special Teams:

"Who’s the placekicker?

Probably Marshall Koehn. The junior walk-on from Solon has waited three seasons for his shot. When Meyer was in departure mode late last season, he praised Koehn’s leg strength. Where will the competition come from? Incoming freshman Mick Ellis is the only scholarship kicker."

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