SATURDAY. Iowa will open the gates to Kinnick and let in kids of all ages to get a final glimpse of practicing football players before the season gets real. The stadium opens at 10:45 am and practice gets started around noon. We saw the team twice in spring. There are warts and glaring issues, and now we'll see if any of the newest faces from the 2015 recruiting class improves this team.
OBVIOUSLY, wide receiver is a key position to watch Saturday. We've seen plenty of Emmanuel Ogwo, Jerminic Smith, Ronald Nash and Adrian Falconer in practice pics published on Hawkeye Sports. Ogwo is seen making a catch against Greg Mabin. Is that first team reps for the true freshman burner from Texas? Ferentz told the BTN that Falconer may be ahead of the rest on Tuesday. Is that first team or second team reps? Do Josh Jackson and Jay Scheel figure into the rotation?
Next up, offensive line. Jordan Walsh was missing from practice Wednesday when local media got a short view. Sean Welsh is back after missing spring and is filling in at guard. Have the tackles improved? Can Dalton Ferguson push for reps at right tackle?
Ike Boettger and Boone Myers were so bad in April, Ferentz had to pull Drew Ott and Nate Meier just to get some plays run. Iowa's new tackles have had the summer to improve and rumblings say they have. I'll believe it when I see it.
Iowa's depth on the o-line is another question mark. I've mentioned Ferguson. What about newcomer James Daniels? He was getting reps with the twos and could get some playing time in spots this year so he's ready to take over center for three years after Blythe leaves next year.
RUNNING BACK. LeShun Daniels appears to be the clear number one and will likely get few touches in a scrimmage situation. He's been "dinged," apparently by a flying torpedo hit by Miles Taylor. Jordan Canzeri will likely see little action too and that leaves us with a good chance to see Akrum Wadley, Derrick Mitchell and newcomer Eric Graham.
On the other side, linebacker is still an issue with this team as they lack size the starting ranks. There's still five or six (if Mends turns heads) in the mix and I'll be watching Travis Perry and Cole Fisher to see if they push Bo Bower, Ben Niemann and Josey Jewell for playing time. Iowa could really benefit from two seniors stepping up in their last hurrah this year. Without Perry and Fisher, Iowa starts only four seniors on defense.
In the backfield, Jordan Lomax missed practice yesterday and we can expect an update on that situation from Ferentz. Miles Taylor has earned some praise via social media and perhaps that's why Snyder slid over to free safety.
The corners are set with Greg Mabin and Desmond King and the battle is for the nickel back. Sean Draper is back and so is Maurice Fleming. But, will Jalen Embry or Michael Ojemudia push either for second team reps? Embry drew raves in early practices last summer before he failed to qualify and had to shut it down. Both Embry and Ojemudia may break in on special teams and eventually be fixtures in Iowa's secondary after Mabin and Lomax depart.
I didn't mention quarterback. I suppose it's a one man show at this point. There's two new faces there but, typically, new freshmen stumble and bumble through these things. They've been practicing for all of a week now. It's no surprise.
So, that's it. What else would you like to see? Talk about it below.