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THOUGHTS/OBSERVATIONS FROM IOWA FOOTBALL'S OPEN PRACTICE: WHERE EVERYBODY HURTS

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soooometimes....

IOWA HELD ITS ANNUAL KID'S DAY YESTERDAY. It's our one shot to see the team in person before kickoff against Northern Iowa in 13 days. It was really hard to get a good read on the team since injuries from a long two weeks of camp have taken their toll. Kirk Ferentz mentioned he's concerned about the large number of dings. One injury, a torn ACL for fullback Adam Cox, will cost him the season. The rest are not serious and Ferentz expects everyone (except Damond Powell) back soon.

I snapped a couple of pics before practice got started. I'm not a professional photographer by any means but when you see the new football facility, you'll be impressed (phase II completes this fall). There's a Tigerhawk in the glass, sorry it's hard to see:

THERE'S, OF COURSE, SEVERAL OTHER PICS. And videos, and interviews with players from local media. I'll include them later like a standard "It's Not Plagiarism" link post. But first, I'll ramble a bit. I apologize in advance as this will be Harty-esque. At least in short paragraph style.

INJURIES. By my count, and reading others, Iowa was missing several players from practice, including several players that figure to be key contributors. Ray Hamilton, Jake Duzey, Damond Powell, Derrick Willies, Andre Harris, Greg Mabin, Jay Scheel, Kevin Ward, Jalen Embry, Riley McMinn, Darian Cooper and Terrance Harris were missing by my count.

Others were healthy but didn't participate much beyond individual drills and 7-on-7 stuff. Mark Weisman, Damon Bullock and Travis Perry were limited in their work. Perry did play a little OLB and MLB. Drew Ott had a brace on his left arm/elbow and was limited. Nate Meier took a lot of reps ahead of Ott.

I thought the Quarterback play suffered a little bit due to the missing pieces at wide receiver. Iowa kept the offensive and defensive stuff pretty basic. There was rollouts off of play action and some shotgun/2-minute series but nothing new. It was nice to see an established offense work rather than find their way like they did the first two years under Davis. The defense did blitz a little but kept it basic running only a couple of nickle packages and zero "Raider" stuff.

Rudock did find Kevonte Martin-Manely for a long touchdown pass. Iowa was in 5-wide and the defense brought a blitz playing man on the outside. KMM cut off the defensive back, who had good coverage, and broke an arm tackle to take it all the way. Rudock shook off a rough start (the first two series were awful), to have a decent finish to his day. Beathard still appears to look down field and that would have resulted in sacks had the play been live. Beathard started to find his check downs to the tight end later in the scrimmage and settled down a bit, like Rudock.

George Kittle and red-shirt freshman tight end Peter Pekar had big days statistically when the QBs started to look their way. Kittle will be a contributor this season and Pekar will be a nice player in a couple of years.

Andrew Stone hauled in a few of Beathard's passes on outs and crossing routes. Riley McCarron made a nice diving catch but out-of bounds. He came down hard on his shoulder and missed the rest of the scrimmage.

I often watch Iowa's new faces during these events. It's likely the only time we'll see some in action until next spring. Safety Miles Taylor looked to get the most reps of any true freshmen. Some rumblings and several practice pics have Jalen Embry in the mix at corner too. Linebacker Ben Niemann saw a lot of action. His dad, if you recall, is the defensive coordinator at Northern Illinois. He's likely well studied on the concepts and schemes of the Iowa defense. He'll need to add some size but Niemann, along with Taylor and maybe Embry are my pick to play special teams and spot duty this fall.

I wouldn't rule out Matt Nelson just yet but he's a tad skinny still. He got some work at defensive end with the third team and looked good against Keegan Render.

Aaron Mends and Jameer Outsey didn't get a ton of work with the third team. They both will need to add some weight this year before contributing. Josh Jackson and Omar Truitt appear to be behind Marcel Joly at corner. All three will need to get bigger and learn the position before we can count on them as contributors.

On the offensive side, I saw a little bit of Keegan Render and Ross Reynolds. They'll need to spend time with Mr. Doyle.

I liked what I saw from running back C.J. Hilliard. He runs hard and hits the hole fast. It's still scout team work this year.

Tyler Wiegers has good size and a nice arm but looked like how you'd expect a true freshman quarterback to look in his first college camp. He missed throws in scrimmage and at times looked confused and unsure of himself. A year of the scout team will serve him well.

Several red-shirt freshmen are starting to move up the depth charts. I've mentioned Parker. Another that stood out was Nathan Bazatta at defensive tackle. With Cooper out, Bazatta was the first sub in during one session of scrimmage. Jaleel Johnson also worked in but it seems as if the coaches like Johnson an Ekakitie as a pair. Brant Gressel continues to impress me with his motor. He's still down the depth chart but he looks like a young Trinca-Pasat.

I feel better about the second unit offensive line than in April. Cole Croston continues to impress me but the knock is still his size. He's on a three year path to playing and progressing nicely though.

Ryan Ward disappeared last spring but appears to be back in the mix. Ward subbed in at tight end in Iowa's goal line package and was working at left tackle with the second unit during some shell stuff early in practice. Ike Boetteger replaced Scherff late in practice at left tackle when Scherff exited after what looked like a stinger. Boetteger is being groomed but Ward might be the next man-in this early season.

Malik Rucker and Soloman Warfield are still working in the third unit. Both some some spot time with the 2's during scrimmage. Warfield replaced Gair for a bit. Speaking of Gair, he's likely Iowa's next option off the bench if either Jordan Lomax or John Lowdermilk go down to injury. Behind Gair it's a battle between Warfield and Taylor.

LeShun Daniels has improved a great deal over this same time last season. It appears he's running with purpose and not thinking about what to do/where to go. He looked solid out of the backfield as a pass catcher too.

Walk-on red-shirt freshman Drake Kulick made the move to fullback from linebacker. The move may have been made this week as he looked a little lost at times. He can't quite catch yet but neither could Weisman three years ago. Kulick delivered more than one big pop leading the way for Hilliard/Wadley. Kulick is a name to remember for 2015 and beyond.

Linebackers Bo Bower and Josey Jewell were again all over the field. Jewell appears to be the first sub off the bench. He may also play in some of Iowa's special defensive packages this year. Both still look undersized but Jewell isn't afraid of contact, delivering a couple of loud cracks in the hole against an opposing fullback.

The best two players on the field were the two we've heard so much about this summer. Brandon Scherff is a dominating left tackle and on one rush I watched him move Reggie Spearman 10 yards out of the play with one arm. Carl Davis looked as good as I've ever seen him too. He blasted through Blythe on more than one occasion and I think Blythe is a helluva player.

The kicking game is still up in the air as Marshall Koehn, Mick Ellis and Marcel Recinos failed to win the job (at least on this one day). Ferentz said they'd been consistent up until yesterday so I'll take his word. Koehn had the strongest leg of the three and I'd put Recinos ahead of Ellis right now.

Dillon Kidd got the first shot at punter and appeared to be ahead in that race. There was a little wind but not too much. Kidd had the wind while Kornbrath didn't. It wouldn't surprise me to see Ferentz use both this season, similar to John Weinke handling pooch duties. Kidd is my pick for week one starter.

OKAY, SO THAT'S A LOT. And there's certainly some we didn't cover. Desmond King did Desmond King things. Jacob Hillyer was out there making catches. The safeties looked better than April but Derrick Willies wasn't out there, nor was Andre Harris who both torched them last spring. Sean Welsh looked okay. Andrew Donnal needs to be better. Quinton Alston didn't really stand out and Reggie Spearman had no chance covering Jordan Canzeri in man. But, it's one practice. One of sixteen (in two weeks) or something like that.

HOW ABOUT THOSE OTHER LINKS?