Iowa football hosted its media day on Saturday. You might have heard about it. You might not have. In general, very little is revealed during these media days, but either way, we read a bunch of stuff and rounded up the most interesting storylines for you!
Let’s get to it.
The quarterback competition is still wide-open, apparently
Nathan Stanley and/or Tyler Wiegers will be your starter at quarterback this year. Even though Stanley is the No. 1 on the depth chart, the two are taking equal reps with the first-team offense according to Kirk Ferentz.
And this sort of QB competition might be the exact reason why Ken O’Keefe was pried away from South Beach back to sunny Iowa City. He’s the quarterback whisperer, and it’s up to him to decide who takes to his whispering best, writes Scott Dochterman:
His charge is the most important for Iowa’s upcoming season, and that’s to develop at least one quarterback for prime-time action. Combined, Iowa quarterbacks Nathan Stanley and Tyler Wiegers have thrown for 13 passes the last two seasons. Neither has emerged as the clear starter, and one must for Iowa to contend this season. That’s on O’Keefe.
Dochterman notes that the Ferentz’s will have a final say on who will be Iowa’s signal-caller for the season (or at least week one) but O’Keefe’s opinions will weigh heavily in that decision. Iowa had some pretty good QBs under KoK, and I’m getting more and more optimistic abut his return to Iowa City.
James Butler and Akrum Wadley are getting along swimmingly
If Akrum Wadley is holding any bitterness toward James Butler for transferring to Iowa this summer—taking some of the spotlight from Wadley—then he isn’t showing it. Butler reached out to Wadley before he left Nevada in July, and it was a big deal for him to earn Wadley’s blessing.
Butler was smart enough to know he needed to reach out to Wadley, to reassure him that he was coming to Iowa in search of victories — and a little redemption — and not just personal glory.
“It was never really awkward,” Butler said. “I’m not a big ‘I’m here to take your spot’ kind of guy. I’m a team guy. I came here for the betterment of the team.”
Apparently the two of them are also battling for return duties on special teams — but I’d be willing to bet neither of them end up with the job. Doesn’t seem worth the risk, but then again we had Desmond King returning last year.
Toren Young and Toks and Akinribade will be running backs Nos. 3 & 4, probably in that order.
The Brian Ferentz era begins
Kirk Ferentz’s large adult son isn’t sure where he’ll be calling plays for the season. That detail seems minor. Brian seemed to shrug off quite a few questions from the media, but he did regale them with stories and anecdotes that are always fun to hear this time of year.
In Ferentz’s first of four seasons on staff with New England Patriots in 2008, star quarterback Tom Brady tore his ACL in the first quarter of the first game.
“Coach Belichick didn’t flinch,” Ferentz recalled. “He came in the building the next day and said, ‘I don’t want to hear another word about it. We’re going to find a way to win football games.’”
He did take the team to glean some philosophy, too. And boy am I buying what he’s selling:
“Let’s make sure the defense is having to defend the whole field,” Ferentz said, “and all six skill guys that we have out there.
“Just because you’re a running back doesn’t mean you have to line up in a traditional running-back spot. I think we need to be open to having guys play different spots, and move them around a little bit.”
Fire me up! This is the time of year we get to believe five-yard out routes on third and eight are a thing of the past. And I’m drinking all that kool-aid.
This segues into some #TightEndTalk.
Basically, it’s going to be the Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson show for the Hawkeyes. Though Iowa does have more tight ends on scholarship than receivers, so there’s a handful of guys who could have an impact at the position. There’s still Peter Pekar, Nate Wieting and Jon Wisnieski who will get some snaps. I, for one, am very excited to see what this group will do this year.
A.J. Epenesa. Enough said.
The crown jewel of Iowa’s recruiting class has only been around for six practices, but he’s already turning heads. He’s got defensive line coach Reese Morgan smiling, and teammate Nathan Bazata saying he’s coming in advanced for a freshman.
He’s been getting reps on the interior defensive line, but the coaches recognized that he’s most effective on the outside.
There be injuries
Nathan Bazata and Matt VandeBerg both seem to be on the mend after suffering injuries last season. Both are reportedly going full throttle in drills.
As for Brandon Snyder, there remains a small chance he can return this year after tearing his ACL in April. That’s usually around a six-month injury until you’re running full-speed and then another couple months to get contact. I’m not horribly optimistic, but we’ll see.
And that’s that. Here’s one nugget not related to media day: former Iowa lineman Duke Slater (the namesake of Slater hall) deserves to be in the NFL hall of fame.