Spring football is wrapping up -- there's just one more event to go, Iowa's spring game-type scrimmage-y substance.
WHAT: Iowa football spring game-type substance
WHEN: 1 PM CT, Saturday, April 25
WHERE: Kinnick Stadium
HOW TO WATCH: BTn2Go should have coverage of some sort available here; beyond that... TBD
The weather forecast for Saturday in Iowa City is dismal -- cool and with a high probability of rain -- which has already led to the cancellation of several other activities around the scrimmage/spring game. The scrimmage itself is still planned to go forward, but we'll have to wait and see.
As always, reading too much into the action today is a mistake -- it's a practice, after all, and just one of many this spring. That said, it's still one of our few chances to see the Iowa players in action before August, so of course we'll be watching. What will we be watching for?
1) Is Beathard developing chemistry with any receivers?
Tevaun Smith is Iowa's best receiver, hands down, but Iowa will need some other receiving threats to emerge if Beathard is to be successful next year. With Duzey out with an injury, there's even more incentive for Beathard to develop some good chemistry with his receivers. So we'll see if he appears to have a strong connection with a receiver or two today.
2) Who stands out at running back?
Ferentz and the coaches have praised Daniels and Canzeri during spring and both guys seem healthy (for once). It would be nice to get a good look at the new-look Daniels, but it also wouldn't be a surprise (or a bad idea) if the coaches keep Daniels and Canzeri largely under wraps today, especially if the weather is poor. We're also curious to see Derrick Mitchell get snaps at RB, as his speed and shiftiness have drawn praise this spring.
3) Is anyone impressing at wide receiver?
This really follows up on our first point, but jeez, we really need someone aside from Smith to emerge from among the pass-catching scrum -- especially if Duzey is going to be out of action for a while. (Ferentz should provide an update on the extent of his injury later today.) Spring game receiving heroes have a poor track record when it comes to translating that success to the regular season, but you never know... maybe this will be the year a spring standout turns into a reliable fall target.
4) How's the offensive line coming along?
Can Iowa's new-look tackles adequately handle a pass rush and protect Beathard? Can the line get a push in the running game? Offensive line is maybe the biggest question mark about the entire Iowa team and if they struggle this year, we could be looking at a very long season next fall. We don't expect flawless play from them today, but hopefully they do enough to give us a few signs of hope for next fall.
5) Matt Nelson: your new favorite player?
Redshirt freshman defensive end Matt Nelson has been one of the most buzzed-about players of the spring and while he probably won't displace either of Iowa's starting defensive ends (Drew Ott and Nate Meier), but he could be in line to play a lot of snaps. Here's another chance to get an early look at him in action.
6) Are the linebackers making progress?
Linebacker play was a serious problem for Iowa's defense last year and hopefully the lumps that guys like Jewell, Bower, Niemann, and Perry took will pay dividends in improved play this year. If not... welp. Here's a chance for us to see if they're better at shedding blocks and stuffing the run game and how well they can handle pass coverage duties.
7) What's going on at safety?
The big battle in the defensive backfield is at strong safety, where Miles Taylor is trying to hold off Brandon Snyder at strong safety. Taylor was a decorated recruit and saw action last year (mainly on special teams), while Snyder is a redshirt freshman. Like so many former Iowa safeties before him, Snyder is a walk-on. Iowa's safety play has been hit-or-miss for a few years now, so whoever sees the field next year will need to be much better.
Here's your thread to discuss the action, whether you're watching via live stream or you're attending in person.