This is the final part of spring football for the Iowa Hawkeyes. This week I’ll talk about the scrimmage last Saturday and special teams.
The scrimmage had a new look at Kinnick with the offense and defense going heads up and keeping score.
It was a perfect day for football, not too hot, a nice breeze and enough clouds not to get sunburned.
I liked the new format that had a point system that allowed for some good competition.
They played 15-minute quarters in the first half, 12-minute quarters in the second half.
I’ll start with the offense, which won the battle, 61-37.
Usually in these scrimmages, the defense has the advantage because they know the plays, but the passing game opened up and the offense rolled.
Going into fall camp, I would say it’s a two-man race for quarterback between Jake Rudock and Cody Sokol, with Jake having a slight edge.
Jake finished the afternoon going 18-29 for 174 yards. He was 6-6 in the final drive of the day that led to a touchdown.
Jake has decent mobility and can move around in the pocket.
Cody was 13-18 for 183 yards and a touchdown pass, while C.J. Beathard was 10-20 for 110 yards and a touchdown pass.
I thought Cody had some good moments and also has some mobility. He scored on a 2 yard run.
The defense wasn’t allowed to tackle the quarterbacks so it won’t be until this fall when we see the quarterbacks take a hit. They did run a couple of quarterback sneaks and scrambled a couple of times.
The running game was not sharp, but Jordan Canzeri showed he can contribute with a 22-yard run on a broken play and a 46 yard touchdown on a flat pass.
Mike Malloy had a couple of 16-yard runs and scored a 1-yard run. He finished with 12 carries for 56 yards.
Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock were in the same backfield more than a few times. They combined for 14 carries and 16 yards.
Iowa has some flexibility with Damon as he can move out to a slot receiver or go in motion.
I thought the offensive line would dominate a little more, but like I said, the defense knows what’s coming.
Cameron Wilson stood out for the receivers. The 6-1, 200 pound redshirt freshman from Ohio had 10 catches for 131 yards. He has good hands and can take a hit.
Jacob Hillyer is a big target at 6-4 and he grabbed four passes.
Blake Haluska, who is a junior, had four receptions including a juggling 23 yard catch which set up a touchdown.
I’ve been waiting for Blake to show up.
Blake is 6-4, 210 and was an all-state quarterback at Carroll and his big brother Adam was a great basketball player for the Hawkeyes.
Kevonte Martin-Manley will probably be the go-to guy next season. He had five receptions for 42 yards.
I like the fact that Kevonte can go over the middle.
The tight ends combined for 11 catches, although C.J. Fiedorowicz only caught one. That will change next fall.
On defense, Carl Davis was dominant up front.
Reece Morgan, the D-line coach, has been talking about the 6-5, 315-pound junior this spring and thinks Big Carl can be a good one.
Carl can explode up the middle and make things tough for the inside offensive linemen.
He was double-teamed a couple of times but has a great upside, is playing with confidence, had three sacks and knocked down two passes last Saturday.
“It’s all about work,” said Carl. “It started in the weight room this winter. It’s starting to progress slowly and hopefully I can take this into the season.”
You put Carl in there with Dominic Alvis, Drew Ott, Darian Cooper, Riley McMinn, Faith Ekakitie, Mike Hardy, Melvin Spears and Louis Trinca-Pasat, who is being held out this spring because of an injury, and you have a nice rotation with depth.
The linebackers were active, with Christian Kirksey and Anthony Hitchens making plays. James Morris didn’t play much in the second half which gave Quinton Alston some good playing time.
Cole Fisher and Travis Perry saw action with the second team.
B.J. Lowery had a couple of good breakups at cornerback. He lined up alongside Jordan Lomax at corner while John Lowdermilk and Tanner Miller were the safeties.
Sean Draper and Anthony Gair came in when Iowa went to nickel and dime looks. It’s over four months until the first game on Aug. 31 at Kinnick Stadium against Northern Illinois.
Chris Doyle, the Iowa strength coach, will work with the players this summer to get stronger and faster.
The Hawkeyes won’t be picked to finish high in the league but let’s see what happens.
Special teams The special teams will have a new look with Chris White on board as running back and special teams coach, along with LaVar Woods, who also coaches linebackers.
Chris was with the Minnesota Vikings last year and the Vikings were recognized with the No. 1 ranking by the well-respected Dallas Morning News season-ending special teams evaluation.
In the last two seasons, the Vikings’ 26.8 yard kickoff return average led the NFL.
Jordan Cotton led the Big Ten in kickoff returns last year, averaging 28.2 yards on 19 returns. He broke off a 92-yard touchdown against Penn State.
Look for Kevonte Martin-Manley, Jordan Canzeri, Maurice Fleming and Riley McCarron to get a shot at returning kickoffs.
One of those guys could also get a look at punt returns, and at the scrimmage last Saturday, it was Kevonte and Jordan.
Mike Meyers is back for his senior season as one of the top field goal kickers in the Big Ten. Mike was 17-21 on field goals and has kicked 81 straight extra points. He was honorable mention All-Big Ten.
Conner Kornbrath punted as a true freshman and has to improve his 37.9 punting average. He has a strong leg and has shown he can kick it deep. He just has to be more consistent.
Iowa was decent in covering punts and kickoff returns.
The Hawks ranked 24th in kick return defense last year and 13th at covering punts.
Now if they could learn to handle covering onside kicks…