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Iowa Football Kid’s Day: Takeaways You Can Take to the Bank

Playing armchair quarterback after one open practice is what we do best

The 102nd Rose Bowl Game - Iowa v Stanford Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

In case you were living under a rock this weekend, or maybe have a life away from Iowa athletics (what’s wrong with you?), the Hawkeyes hosted their annual Kid’s Day at (historic) Kinnick Stadium. Aside from the great weather and opportunity for kids across the state to get up close and personal with their favorite Hawkeyes, it gave the more seasoned fans a chance to see what they should expect in the upcoming season. Here are our 7 takeaways that are 100% guaranteed to be true and predictive of the outcomes this season.*

1. C.J. Beathard is alive and potentially bionically enhanced.

We got our first Beathard sighting last week after nearly a full week of wondering where in the world he was. Speculation ran wild when the first photo of the Iowa QB in surfaced and only showed him from the knees up. And that glimmer of a knee showed signs of a knee brace. Sure enough, the gunslinger showed up to Saturday’s open practice sporting some new hardware. While CJ insists he is fine and all the speculation is unwarranted, I prefer to run with the theory that he was away for a week becoming Iowa’s million dollar man. You can bank on him running for at least 500 yards this year on those new robotic legs and I’d keep an eye out for other cyborgs running around University Heights now that the UIHC has clearly perfected the art of combining human and machine.

2. Iowa doesn’t plan on punting this season.

One of the major takeaways from Saturday’s practice was the lack of punting. Hawkeye punters booted away exactly 0 balls. I guess you don’t have to worry about punting when you have a million dollar man at QB who plans on scoring every possession. Sure, the naysayers will just say the punters were getting some rest, or maybe there just wasn’t anything scheduled for Saturday’s practice. I think we all know the truth is even Kirk himself was a bit surprised by the success of New Kirk last season and now he is taking it into overdrive. If going for it on 4th down works sometimes, why not do it all the time? Gone are the days of wasting scholarships on players to punt or trying to play a field position game. New(er) Kirk is a gambling man and he doesn’t plan on losing. Or something like that.

3. Maybe Iowa shouldn’t plan on kicking field goals this season either.

I mean, if Kirk is going all in on not punting, why not scrap the kicking game too? I’m not a math major, but I think 6 is bigger than 3. And I’m told football is a game where you want more points than your opponent. Oh, and Iowa’s kickers didn’t exactly light things up Saturday. As I said, math isn’t my thing, but according to Marc Morehouse of the Gazette, Iowa kickers were 25 of 34 on Saturday. That seems like a sweet shooting night, but I really hope the kickers clean things up, as the captain likes to say, before September 3rd. Just in case GD Greg Davis decides to kick a few extra points with all those touchdowns we will be expecting.

Oh, and then there’s the issue of blocked kicks. Either Anthony Gair had one of those CJB enhancements and is now capable of flying or there may be some issues with kick trajectory and/or FG blocking schemes this year. Gair blocked a pair of FGs during the practice and I assume spent the rest of the day doing his best Dikembe Mutumbo.

4. There will be some freshmen getting serious PT.

There were a lot of key names sitting on the sidelines Saturday. Names like Mabin, Scheel, Kittle, Niemann and many (again, not good with the math) more. With guys sure to get lots of game action sitting out, the door was open for some of the newcomers to see the field. And they impressed. Notably Cedric Lattimore. He’s not a small human being and as such, he’s now a defensive end. He’s listed at 6’5” 260 lbs, but I’d expect him to pack on a few more lbs with that frame. There is PT available at DT and by all accounts, Lattimore is in the mix to pick some of that up as a true frosh. His HS buddy Chauncey Golston also impressed on Saturday. The DE is a bit slimmer at 6’5” and 227 lbs and has the quicks to get to the QB from time to time, an obvious need for the Iowa defense this year.

Speaking of obvious needs, you may have read that Iowa is in need of some depth at TE behind the incumbent George Kittle. There are a few older options, but among the contenders are a couple newcomers this season. Freshmen Noah Fant of Omaha and TJ Hockenson of Chariton, IA both have the physical attributes you’ve come to know and love in your Iowa TEs. If they can grasp the playbook and do the dirty work in the run game, each have the opportunity to contribute given the limited options.

Other notables from Saturday included RB Toks Akrinabe and DB Amani Hooker. Unfortunately, both play positions where Iowa has a plethora of options this year. Keep an eye out for them should the injury bug, or God forbid the football deity whom shall remain nameless, strike the Hawkeyes, but they’re mostly just names to remember in the years to come. There were also a few reports that freshman Nate Stanley looked the part of potential CJ replacement down the road. I’ll temper expectations for now given that Beathard is half human, half machine, half god and Wiegers hasn’t done anything to indicate he wouldn’t be the #2.

5. WR is going to be a fantastic surprise. Or terrible disappointment. Nobody knows.

Such is life when there are so many question marks. Iowa returns two mainstays from last year’s receiving corps, but lost former #1 receiver Tevaun Smith. They’ve replaced one Smith with another who also saw some action last year as a frosh, but behind the three starters are a lot of unknowns. Saturday did almost nothing to shed light on the matter. One of the new guys expected to contribute is Jay Scheel. The former 4-star athlete has had high expectations building for a couple years and there have been reports about him looking great in practice. He looked great Saturday as well, he just wasn’t practicing. There’s lots of promise in some of the young guys like Emmanuel Ogwo, Devonte Young and Adrian Falconer. And don’t count out converted QB and Dowling product Ryan Boyle who’s been making some noise lately. Perhaps the face of this group, the embodiment of the outlook, is that of Jonathan Parker. You may remember my brother from another mother from his, um, not-so-prototypical-Kirk-Ferentz-y play a couple years ago in the Taxslayer Bowl (oh, you had blocked that out of your memory for good?) After getting some reps in during his freshman year at RB, and showing off a ton of straight line speed, Parker was banished to the sidelines almost all of last year. He’s a WR now and he’s still fast. If he can get healthy (he’s currently recovering from a foot injury that is expected to keep him out for the next several weeks), expect him to figure in to the WR rotation at some point. You can’t teach fast.

6. Iowa’s secondary is probably the best in the country.

For several reasons. First among them: Desmond King. I could stop there, but I’ll go on. While King was at practice Saturday, signing autographs and likely talking some smack, his partner on the other side of the field, Greg Mabin, was on the sidelines. Despite missing a starting CB, the Iowa defense looked very solid against what we now know to be an offense which will likely score on every possession this year (and I’m pretty sure that would set a few NCAA records). Furthermore, Mabin’s replacement, Josh Jackson, started things off by picking off Heisman hopeful and possible cyborg CJ Beathard on his very first pass. The man is half machine and Jackson, who isn’t even a starter, was able to pull off the pick on the first play. This secondary is going to be very good folks.

7. Iowa will go undefeated this year.

We’ve now seen the Hawkeyes in action twice this year after that game we will not name in Pasadena with pretty flowers, and twice we’ve seen Iowa come away without a loss. I’d look for this trend to continue at least into Labor Day weekend. Things get a bit more challenging from that point, but with the unstoppable force that is the Iowa offense and the immovable object that is Iowa’s defense, I really don’t know that this team will ever lose again. Especially when you consider that injuries are no longer a factor. The wizards at UIHC can simply replace injured parts with mechanical ones and the Hawkeyes will march out week after week stronger than they’ve ever been. We’ll get into more detailed predictions for the upcoming season at a later date, but for now I’m sticking with undefeated forever.

*The margin of error used here is 100%.