WHO: Iowa Football Spring Game/Open Practice
WHEN: 1 PM CT -- Saturday, April 23, 2016
WHERE: Kinnick Stadium (Iowa City, IA)
ONLINE: BTN2Go (free)
RADIO: Hawkeye Sports Network -- KXIC (Iowa City), KCZE (Charles City), KUOO (Spirit Lake), WHO (Des Moines), WMT (Cedar Rapids), WOC (Davenport), KROS (Clinton), channel 93 (Sirius), channel 196 (XM)
When next we see the Iowa football team hit the field at Kinnick Stadium -- next August -- we'll be close enough to real football to taste it. But for now we're still in April, which means that real, meaningful football is still many months away. So we'll have to make do with this spring game-type substance, which also doubles as Iowa's final practice of the 2016 spring session. The practice gets underway at 1 PM CT in Kinnick Stadium (attendance is free) and is also being streamed on BTN2Go (also free, although you need to have a cable provider).
So what are we looking forward to seeing today?
1) How are the non-Beathard quarterbacks looking? Hopefully we see a highlight or two out of C.J., but he's the unquestioned starter and we know (and are excited about) what we have in him. But we know very little about his backups. Wiegers is QB2, but is he looking more comfortable running the Iowa offense? Does he have good chemistry with any receivers yet? And how is the race for QB3 going between Ryan Boyle and Drew Cook? They're probably not both going to stick at QB for too much longer, so this could give us a glimpse of which one is ahead in their race.
2) Do we have any wide receivers? Matt VandeBerg is the only proven commodity in the Iowa receiving corps, so who else is looking to step up and claim big roles in the passing game next year? Can Jerminic Smith find more consistency? Will the legend of Jay Scheel grow with some impressive plays? Will we have an out-of-nowhere spring game hero like we have so often in the past? Lots of uncertainty here.
3) Who's winning in the trenches? There's been a lot of juggling on the offensive line this spring as the coaches have experimented with different looks -- who's standing out the most now? How's their chemistry look? Is this the top-five linemen we'll see in the fall? (Probably not since James Daniels will be available then, but still.) And are they winning their battles with the defensive line? Speaking of... it's officially the post-Drew Ott era at defensive end for Iowa, so how are Parker Hesse and the Nelsons (Matt and Anthony) faring? Last year at this time the defensive ends devoured Iowa's offensive linemen whole -- hopefully both sides score a few wins this time.
4) Who rides with the Outlaw? Josey Jewell is locked in at MLB for Iowa, but the coaches have experimented with different options around him at the linebacker spot this spring. Ben Niemann will almost certainly claim one of the starting spots when he returns from injury, but for now we'll get a chance to see what Aaron Mends, Jack Hockaday, and Bo Bower can do.
5) Can we kick it? The race at kicker and punter will continue this summer as more contenders for those jobs arrive, but for now we might get some idea of the pecking order at both positions heading into the summer. #PuntingIsWinning, after all.
Here's the scoring system for the Spring Scrimmage today:
The usual rules apply. It's a spring game -- let's not be dumb.