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INPIYLTI: Observations From Iowa Football's Kid's Day Open Practice

It's like, your opinion, man.

Joe Robbins


Iowa Football Hosts "Kids at Kinnick" Day (via Iowa Hawkeyes)

WITH TWO WEEKS TO GO THE PICTURE GOT A LITTLE CLEARER. Kirk Ferentz didn't name Jake Rudock the starter following Iowa's open scrimmage Saturday, but it was clear he's the leader as he took most of the snaps with the first offensive unit. Ferentz said they may officially name a starter later this week. C.J. Beathard and Cody Sokol split reps with the second unit. Rudock and the first unit struggled a bit Saturday as they played against the first defensive unit. Rudock finished the day unofficially 8-for-18 passing for one touchdown. He added 15 yards on five carries.

The second team offense had an easier time moving the ball. The drop off from the first team defense to the second was big. Maurice Fleming and Desmond King did not participate, leaving that unit with Gavin Smith and Sean Draper at corner. Wide receivers Damond Powell and Tevaun Smith looked like starters against Iowa's third string DBs and both Sokol and Beathard benefited. Beathard finished the day 8-for-12 for 88 yards, Sokol 8-for-14 for 145 yards.

Powell and Smith were the most exciting receivers on the field yesterday, and Kevonte Martin-Manley had the best day with the first unit. Powell showed something we haven't seen in a Hawkeye uniform in a handful of years: Play-making ability. All three wide receivers were able to get yards after the catch, too, something last season's offense lacked. Powell finished with four catches for 88 yards and a TD. KMM had five catches for 69 yards and Smith one catch for 59 yards (Smith also had another 60-yard catch called back).

The offense ran from the shotgun formation the most, and plays came from the sideline without a huddle. There's still the ace formation with two tight ends, but it looked like Iowa was working on the shotgun offense. There were a few read option runs along with draw plays. Most of the passing went downfield, and the tight ends didn't factor in much.

Ferentz said they haven't decided yet if LeShun Daniels will play this season, but if you saw him you know he's playing. Barkley Hill was on the sidelines yesterday, and Michael Malloy had a hamstring injury earlier in camp.  That opened the door for Daniels to work with the second team.  Daniels got the bulk of the work, rushing 13 times for 73 yards and 3 TDs. Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock had six carries total in the scrimmage session.  Jordan Canzeri showed flashes of his quickness, and finished with seven carries for 24 yards. Michael Malloy is very capable despite looking a tad slow due to his previous hamstring problem. He added 10 rushes for 14 yards and a TD.

Prior to scrimmage, Bullock and Canzeri worked with the wide receivers a bit. In the offensive walk-through, both lined up at wide receiver. Bullock was the target on a bubble screen when split out wide. There was a mix of tight ends split wide too. We didn't see much of that in the scrimmage session, but it's there.

Connor Boffeli sat out practice, and Andrew Donnal started at left guard. There was a rotation at both guard spots with Jordan Walsh, Donnal and Nolan MacMillan playing in the guard spots throughout practice. Ferentz said following the scrimmage that Boffeli will be back this week and has had a good camp. Ferentz also mentioned a possible rotation at right guard. The offensive line struggled with the defensive line for the most part. The refs were light with the whistle and let play continue a couple of times after Carl Davis broke through the interior line and could have recorded sacks. Drew Ott got through at least once, as well.

I was a little disappointed in the second team defensive line. Last year, Darian Cooper looked poised to be a breakout player. He teamed with Jaleel Johnson at defensive tackle yesterday, and neither set the world on fire. They will be a big part of the defense this season, as Ferentz says the plan is to play 6-7 along the DL. Riley McMinn sat out practice and Drew Ott looked improved at LE. In third down situations, Nate Meier came in for Ott to rush the passer. Meier still looks small out there and we'll see if this experiment goes anywhere.

I felt both Jordan Lomax and B.J. Lowery had good days. John Lowdermilk got the start at strong safety over Nico Law. The back seven played pretty well against the first offense, but the starting wide receiving group of KMM, Riley McCarron and Don Shumpert wouldn't exactly scare anyone. Shumpert dropped three balls by my count that were contested but still catchable. Jacob Hillyer and Jordan Cotton subbed in with the first unit as well. Cotton's only catch was a nice circus grab in the end zone for a score. KMM's five catches were the only others for this group.

The third units were made up of mostly new faces. They ran basic I-formation sets and dives into the middle of the line. After a few reps they opened things up a little. Nic Shimonek moves really well and Akrum Wadley showed a little burst. Both Jonathan Parker and Wadley will need a year to add a few pounds. Derrick Mitchell Jr showed some nice hands on a sideline grab and Derrick Willies added a 56 yard TD. Iowa's new crop of wide receivers are all big kids but they'll need work before cracking the lineup.

All-in-all, I think Iowa has some playmakers on offense. Powell, Smith and Daniels showed some abilities that last year's team lacked. I don't want to put too much hype on Powell as he worked against the second- and third-team DBs, but fans will love this guy. Greg Davis said he had plays in mind for Powell and I think Iowa will find ways to get him the football. In 7-on-7 drills, Powell motioned to trips and the other two receivers ran their defenders off on a deep route while Powell ran what looked like a modified Z-in route (sharp to the sideline with a 90 degree cut back to midfield). It looked like an underneath route; almost like a delayed screen. Powell also took the handoff on a jetsweep.  Of course, there's the bubble screens and slot receiver quick screens that will show up this season.

I think this is truly Greg Davis' offense. Last season it may have been too complicated, or the transition too difficult, and Iowa reverted back to the power run/play action game when injuries and confusion took over. They will be able to change formations with their no-huddle approach as it appears there's versatile players like Bullock, Canzeri and the tight ends. They can also change tempo based on the game situations. It looked different. Good different. It looked like a modern-day college football offense.


Sokol-Powell TD - Iowa Kids Day (via bitmapman)