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Zap-Ruth-er Films: Early Spring Practices

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Over-analyzing the latest @ChrisRuthIOWA videos.

Max Allen | @maxpallen

Hawkeye fans know that Iowa football has really amped up their video production department within the last couple years. Last offseason’s Iowa Edge videos were just what the doctor ordered during the football-less summers after a record 2015. The fall camp piece was also another behind-the-scenes peek into the inner workings of Iowa football.

After the promotion of Brian Ferentz and (re)hirings of Ken O’Keefe, Tim Polasek, and Kelton Copeland, there is more intrigue than what normally accompanies the backfill of departed mainstays with the remaining underclassmen. With only pictures being released daily and an open practice with the media (including Mas Casa’s 14 videos mainly of position group workouts), the actual “live” footage is limited to the packages Chris Ruth releases.

As such, it is worth grabbing our nearby depth chart or roster and diving into them with a fine-tooth comb to see if there is anything we can glean.

3/22/2017: Spring Practice #1

There isn’t a whole lot from the spring’s first hit film, but one thing of note is the first (of many) interceptions.

The bad: An overthrown ball intercepted by second-team corner Michael Ojemudia (11).

The good: Ojemudia did a good job of high pointing it.

The conspiracy: Normally seeing a second-team corner intercept a pass would make it seem like it was QB1 who threw it. However, it doesn’t appear as if that is the case, as the WR in this play (83) appears to be redshirt (walk-on?) freshman Yale Van Dyne, Jr. This would lead me to believe these were 1x1 drills and the pass was likely thrown by a grad assistant while the quarterbacks were off plying their trade with Ken O’Keefe.

Threat Level? Low

The bad: First-team safety Miles Taylor (19) is completely flummoxed by a Nick Easley (84) double move.

The good: A double move by a wide receiver! Easley ended up catching the ball with ease!

The conspiracy: It’s clear this was a continuation of 1x1 drills, as this play is filmed from the beginning. By having Taylor participate in this drill, all defensive backs are participating, irrespective of safety or corner designation. His inability not to cover the double move will be covered up as a result of scheme next year.

Threat level: Medium. Credit to Easley for climbing the depth chart, but it’s still not good to see a first-year guy smoke someone who would likely be a third-year starter.

The good: In what appears to be our first look at 7-on-7 drills, Drew Cook (18) dropped a deep route over Angelo Garbutt (22) into an unidentified wide receivers arms (6).

The bad: Hard to find much bad in this one. All guys involved in this one are second-team or below and it looks like good offense beating good defense. Execution, baby.

The conspiracy: Who is this wide receiver?! Certainly it isn’t kicker Josh Proehl? We must identify this guy. Iowa can’t have any moles in the first season of their new offense!

Threat level: Existential. Like I said, Iowa can’t have any moles.

3/23/2017: Kelton Copeland Mic’d

The good: Adrian Falconer (82) ran a good crossing route to get some separation on fellow second-teamer, Cedrick Boswell (20).

The bad: Nathan Stanley (4) really left him out to dry with that high catch point.

The conspiracy: Since both Falconer and Boswell are second-teamers, does Stanley throwing it mean he’s dropped below Tyler Wiegers?

Threat level: Low. I consider this a result of positional rotations to get everyone reps. But that throw would hurt an Iowa WR going over the middle.

3/25/2017: Noah Fant Slow Mo Saturday

The good: Noah Fant (87) easily catches a good pass from an unidentified QB.

The bad: Not even the closest defender (Amani Jones, 52) is in a position to stop him.

The conspiracy: Who is the quarterback? By really squinting in this shot, you’ll notice how the sun glistens off of the visor of him. Nathan Stanley!

Threat level: Low. Let’s run this play every down next year. No way that would fail.

3/25/2017: Josh Jackson Slow Mo Saturday

The good: Josh Jackson (15) high points a Nathan Stanley pass intended for Devonte Young (80).

The bad: The throw was thrown too much on a line so it did not drop into Young’s arms at the sidelines.

The conspiracy: Not only does this show a good bit of athleticism by Jackson, but it shows that Iowa’s defense is working some different coverages. Instead of the typical quarters coverage we’ve seen from Iowa defenses throughout Kirk Ferentz’s tenure, the last line of defense is provided by Brandon Snyder (37). Jackson, knowing he has coverage over the top, showed good awareness to break out of his underneath coverage and make a play on the ball.

Threat level: Medium. Since the starter threw the pass, I would feel more comfortable if the play had happened on-ball, been thrown better, or if the coverage had been diagnosed better. As such, it is still something the defense has worked on and the change in scheme, even momentarily, is something nice to see.

3/29/2017: Spring Practice #4

The good: It was, frankly, hard to find good in this play. Though it did appear to be a crossing route. YAY KOK ROUTE TREE!

The bad: A ball thrown by an unidentified quarterback requires a diving attempt by Falconer. Even with his attempt, it is unclear if he was able to secure the ball without it hitting the ground.

The conspiracy: The conspiracy here is all bad: this poorly thrown, potentially incomplete pass was the passing game’s only highlight during this video’s session. Oomph.

Threat level: High. The passing offense, facing no pass rush and little coverage, had trouble completing a simple pass.

The good: Manny Rugamba (5) makes a solid play on a well-placed ball and causes a drop.

The bad: Jerminic Smith (9) lets the ball get into his chest and is unable to maintain control.

The conspiracy: Smith is going to be a starter at wide receiver for this team. He does all the small things except catch the ball consistently, which would be the first box on many coaches’ “WR checklist.” Not Kirk Ferentz’s, though. Also, Jerminic’s inclusion allows me to link to this NSFW song referencing his hometown.

Threat level: Medium. At this point, we know what he is. Perhaps the change in route tree increases his effectiveness as a downfield threat. Hopefully he can figure out the drops.

3/30/2017: Brian Ferentz Mic’d

Despite the above video, the defense appears ahead of the offense. Frankly, that should be the case. Without mentioning the seniority in the defensive backfield, breaking in a new offense with a new QB is going to yield a rollercoaster of results. Yet, the video of routes longer than 10 yards will no doubt excite people who were frustrated with Greg Davis. His departure and Brian Ferentz’s promotion, however, guarantee nothing. The new boss is the same as the old boss, and that boss is Kirk. Like Pete Townshend, I won’t get fooled again.

All images were edited using pixlr.com/o-matic