The main goals during spring football practice are twofold: further develop the players who will be relied upon the following fall and stay healthy. For the most part, it sounds like Iowa has done a good job on both fronts (although RS FR TE Jon Wisnieski apparently suffered a knee injury that could keep him out of action this fall). And so we end spring practice with an open practice -- with game-type activities -- that's open to the public.
The gates open at Kinnick Stadium at 1 PM, with the practice itself getting underway at 2 PM.
There's no TV coverage (sigh), but it looks like a stream of the practice is scheduled to be available on BTN2Go.
As was the case last year, the spring "game" will use a modified scoring system:
Touchdown - 6 pts
Explosive Play - 1 pt (run of 12+ yards, pass of 16+ yards)
3 consecutive 1st downs - 1 pt
PAT - 1 pt
Field Goal - 3 pts
Touchdown - 7 pts
Turnover (unless a TD) - 3 pts
3 and out - 1 pt
QB Sack - 2 pts
Sudden Change - 4 pts (when offense starts inside the 35 and is held to a field goal or no points)
Of course, the scoring itself doesn't really matter and what we'll be paying attention to is who looks good (and who doesn't look so good). Here are a few areas we'll be paying special attention to:
Based on the comments from Ferentz and other coaches during spring -- and the observations from attendees at the other open practice in West Des Moines -- this isn't much of a race. Jake Rudock has clearly moved ahead of the field and seems pretty entrenched as the starter. But we're going to pay attention to the QBs -- we can't help ourselves. So we'll look to see how crisp Rudock looks (since better performances out of Rudock will probably be key for any hopes Iowa has of maintaining or improving its 8-4 record last season) and we'll look to see what C.J. Beathard and Nic Shimonek offer -- and who's closer to being QB2 in Iowa City next fall.
2) WIDE RECEIVER
WR is arguably the biggest question mark on the Iowa offense and it's also the area that's undergone the biggest overhaul since Greg Davis arrived in Iowa City two springs ago. We know what we've got in KMM, but what about the other guys? Tevaun Smith looked good in the previous open practice and has drawn rave reviews from the Iowa coaches, while Damond Powell has the kind of jaw-dropping athleticism that we rarely see at Iowa; what roles will they have in the Iowa offense next year? We might get a better idea of that today. And what about the other guys here, like Matthew Vandeberg,Riley McCarron, Jacob Hillyer, and all those freshmen and redshirt freshman wideouts? Andre Harris and (especially) Derrick
Mitchell Willies really flashed during the open practice in Des Moines; could they produce encore performances here and make the WR picture even more muddled (in a good way)?
3) OFFENSIVE LINE
Wide receiver might be the biggest question mark on the Iowa offense (just because there are so many men of mystery at that position), but the offensive line figures to again be the key to Iowa's offensive success in 2013. The coaches seem fairly pleased with the top 5-6 guys on the line, although once again there's a rotation going on at one of the guard spots (this year it's Jordan Walsh, Ryan Ward, and Mitch Keppy at RG) and we're still going to be paying close attention to Andrew Donnal at RT. But the depth situation beyond the top 5-6 names seems a little precarious, so it will be useful to which -- if any -- of the second- and third-string OL look like they might be able to contribute if called upon this fall... or if we need to start thinking about making some blood sacrifices to preserve the health of Iowa's OL starters.
Replacing three multi-year starters is always hard, so we're going to keep watching Iowa's newbie LBs to see how they're holding up. The early word on Quinton Alston, Reggie Spearman, and Travis Perry has been pretty positive, but this will be another chance to see them in action.
Linebacker is the big area in need of replacements on the Iowa defense, but the secondary has its share of holes, too. Desmond King and John Lowdermilk seem like locks to start at CB and S, respectively, but who might be joining them is very much up in the air. This is a big spring for fan-favorite Nico Law -- there's a starting S spot up for the taking, if he can show that he has the coverage skills to lock it down. Meanwhile, the other CB spot opposite King has been wide open and it seems like there's a new contender every week. Maurice Fleming, Sean Draper, and Malik Rucker are the names to watch here, but Greg Mabin (the converted WR with uncommon size and athletic ability for an Iowa CB) is a very intriguing prospect to look at, too. It might be a case of "too much, too soon" for him to be a starting CB this fall, but he's definitely a fascinating option.
6) KICKING GAME
Finally, this is Iowa so kicking will remain a key part of the gameplan. We'll be watching to see who's emerging as the most reliable option at place kicker to replace Mike Meyer, as well as if newbie punter Dillon Kidd can give Connor Kornbrath a run for his job Punting is winning, you know.
So follow along us with right here, starting at roughly 2 PM. The usual rules apply.