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Observations From Iowa's Open Practice | 8/11/2012

Iowa held its open practice (Kid's Day) at noon today. I'm not sure of the actual attendance estimates but it was the most crowded of the "Kid's Days" I've been to the last few years. I'll give you my thoughts bullet style. There will be links from the media and I'll post them in the comments as they publish online. I'm a football addict but surely no professional scout. My observations are to generate discussion and hopefully, if you were in attendance, you will add your own. Ready? Okay.

For a solid recap of live tweets, read @hawkeyegamefilm's timeline here.

Jon Miller has his observations at Hawkeye Nation.

Rob Howe has his observations at Hawkeye Insider.

There were a lot of players not participating today. Missing from the running backs was Greg Garmon, Barkley Hill and Brad Rogers. Also missing from practice: Jordan Walsh, Riley McMinn, B.J. Lowery, Nolan MacMillan, Quinton Alston, Jonathan Gimm, Ruben Lile and Maurice Fleming. Lile, it was later confirmed by Kirk Ferentz, tore an ACL and will red shirt this season. MacMillan has a broken hand and Lowery has an issue, a sprain, possibly in his knee. None, other than Lile, are considered serious but Ferentz wasn't offering too many details.

After the jump, bullets of observations.

I didn't stay until the end. The team went goal line and after 2.5 hours in the sun we called it a day. (I'm a bit of a tomato.) According to tweets, James Vandenberg had his best part of practice after I left. So, there's that.

  • Some offensive sets were very familiar. I-formation, one back (Ace) with two tight ends, Ace set with three wide. There were also some five wide sets in 7-on-7 and the scrimmage portion. There was some no-huddle from the shotgun formation and a quick tempo when the team did huddle before the snap.
  • Defensively, there was a lot of man/press coverage from the defensive backs. Iowa used multiple blitzes from both the 4-3 and the nickel. They blitzed linebackers and corners. This will definitely be a different defensive philosophy.
  • Mark Weisman is legit. He had some carries out of the Ace formation and showed the ability to hit the cutback lane. He did drop a couple of balls, one on a wheel route where he had his man beat, but he did catch some short passes on some drop off routes.
  • Carl Davis is a little quicker but still stands up on occasion and gets pushed off the LOS. He's improved but still needs to get better.
  • Darian Cooper looked like the best on the second team DL. He'll push Davis and Louis Tinca-Pasat for playing time. I could see Cooper getting solid reps or even start by the end of September.
  • Damon Bullock will be a serviceable back. He's maybe too small to carry the ball 20+ times but he brings a dimension to the passing game. In a perfect world he would be your third down back.
  • Both Kevin Buford and Sean Draper got a lot of reps. Maybe there's more to Lowery's injury and they are getting them as much practice as necessary. They looked solid at times playing a lot of press coverage. Draper did get burned once by freshman Trevaun Smith.
  • Speaking of Smith, he did look the best of the new wide receivers and could play this year. How far he is down the depth chart still isn't clear but he could be Iowa's fifth option this season.
  • Jake Duzey will play a role this year. He's a tweener size wise and is perhaps too small to play TE on the line. He did line up more than once on the outside at wide receiver. He has decent speed and showed good hands on a couple of long catches.
  • Cody Sokol might be the team's second best option at quarterback. He has good feet and a strong arm. His weakness appeared to be quick decision making as he ate a few balls facing the blitz. He, like the other four QBs, is still learning the system.
  • Jake Ruddock is still skinny but still has a decent arm. He was pretty hit-and-miss and needs more size and consistency.
  • The interior OLine dominated. In 1 vs. 1's James Ferentz, Matt Tobin and Austin Blythe dominated Carl Davis and Louis Trinca-Pasat. Blythe might have had the best day among the starting OLine. Then again, I was focusing a lot on the interior and Iowa's DTs.
  • The punter position is totally up for grabs, but it looks like John Weinke's position to lose.
  • Reid Sealby is an offensive linemen. Sealby, Ryan Ward, Eric Simmons and Mitch Keppy were all on the third string OL. Ward got a few reps with the first and second units.
  • Daumantas Venckus-Cucchiara is a tiny defensive end. See you in a couple years kid.
  • Mike Hardy played on the second unit at DE. He looked okay and could see time this year.
  • Both Faith Ekakitie and Jaleel Johnson were DTs on the third string. I think both red shirt but they'll be a big part of Iowa's defensive line next year and beyond. I spotted Jaleel turning and pinning Tommy Gaul in one-on-ones. He has raw power. In Gaul's defense, he probably won more battles than Johnson.
  • Marcus Collins is a solid backup option and could be a special teams beast. He's really filled out and was all over the field today.
  • Travis Perry had an interception and will also play a big part on special teams. He's a decent option as a backup linebacker.
  • Jim Poggi was the middle linebacker with the second and third team defense. He filled in for Alston but looks like a third team player. I know he's battled injuries his entire career but if he's the only option that spells trouble.
  • Andre Dawson showed nimble feet and decent hands.
  • Nate Meier got a few carries with the scout unit. He's a big kid and he wears Marcus Coker's old number and resembles him physically. He looks like a solid athlete but let's hope he doesn't have to play running back this year.
  • Melvin Spears is still probably a year away.
  • Torrey Campbell didn't do much to stand out and might be getting passed over by the two freshmen mentioned above. No doubt there's a battle at defensive back for playing time.
  • C.J. Beathard has a solid arm but see you in a couple years kid.
  • Tom Donatell would probably start at SS if Iowa were to play tomorrow. He was the first SS working with the first team but Nico Law did take his place getting first team reps. Nico's still learning the system and earning the coaches trust. Nico had arm bands, a towel, the #21 and his jersey tucked under his pads out there. He reminded me of this guy. He's athletic but he don't run like Deion.
  • Joe Gaglione looked pretty decent today. If Cooper doesn't claim a DT spot it wouldn't surprise me to see Gaglione get in the lineup and force Bigach or Alvis to DT.
That's it for now. If I can think of more, and I probably will, I'll post in the comments.