Quick Slants -- Alvis, Davis wade into spring practice

Jason White is gone, and Ferentz looks for a little 'octane' in the return game

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IOWA CITY -- Defensive linemen Dominic Alvis and Carl Davis will slowly work their way into spring practice while they recover from knee injuries, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday.

Alvis suffered a torn ACL in the Hawekeyes victory over Michigan on Nov. 5 last season. Davis suffered a knee injury last season and had it repaired in January this year.

"I think right now Dom will be out there more than Carl," Ferentz said. "Carl is probably still a couple of weeks away from doing any significant work. They should both be ready in June."

Alvis showed promise before the injury. He is Iowa's returning sack leader with 1.5 in 2011. Davis' 2011 season never got on track. The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder played in just six games and had two tackles.

Ferentz said of Davis, " . . . a guy we're really counting on next year to step in . . ."

Brooks released from UIHC

Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Brooks was expected to be released from University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics on Tuesday, according to UI sports information director Steve Roe.

Brooks fell ill last Tuesday night after Iowa's NIT game victory over Dayton. He was taken to the UIHC and had surgery.

"I'm glad to hear about Bob doing well," Ferentz said. "I know everybody is concerned about him. He's a great guy. Glad he's doing better."

White moves on after all

Running back Jason White walked out on senior day last season as a junior. There were rumors he was set to return to the Hawkeyes on scholarship this winter. Those were wrong.

White wasn't listed on Iowa's spring roster. He will try to find playing time next fall at a smaller school.

Return men

Senior cornerback Micah Hyde will return punts again for the Hawkeyes next fall. He averaged 8.2 yards on 13 returns last season.

Kick return is up in the air. Senior wide receiver Keenan Davis returned four for 78 yards last season (19.5 average) and might end up back there again. Running backs Jordan Canzeri and Damon Bullock will get looks, and possibly sophomore wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley. Ferentz also is looking toward some incoming freshmen as possibilities.

“Maybe get a little more octane back there,” he said.

Spring logistics

The construction of Iowa's new football facilities and indoor field has taken away Iowa's outdoor practice space and will send the Hawkeyes into Kinnick for the majority of practices this spring.

Ferentz looked on the bright side here. New offensive coordinator Greg Davis will call plays from the press box, so the communication kinks can be worked out.

"The biggest change is language, the way we call things," Ferentz said. "We melded a little bit, but for the most part, we’re going with what he’s done. He’s the guy calling plays, so it’s got to come out fast."

Offensive line scouting report

Here's a quick rundown on some names you've heard and might be wondering about:

Sophomore Andrew Donnal -- The 6-foot-7, 302-pounder is listed as a co-starter with fellow sophomore Brandon Scherff at left tackle.

Sophomore Brandon Scherff -- The 6-5, 310-pounder has had his eye on the LT spot since last fall. Why not? It's been a ticket to the NFL. Iowa's last two left offensive tackles (Bryan Bulaga and Riley Reiff) are or will be in the NFL.

Junior Brett Van Sloten -- He went into the lineup when Markus Zusevics left the Insight Bowl with an illness. He's listed as the No. 1 right tackle.

Junior Conor Boffeli -- He's listed as co-No. 1 right guard and No. 2 center.

Redshirt freshman Austin Blythe -- The Williamsburg native is listed with Boffeli as No. 1 right guard.

"We'll try to get our best five guys out there," Ferentz said. "Obviously James [Ferentz] and Matt [Tobin] have the most experience. Matt has some position flexibility. He's worked a lot of tackle throughout the last couple years at practice.

"We'll probably keep Brandon Scherff outside. That's kind of our focus going in, get him outside, play one position. I think he played most of the time out there last year. We'll give him a lot of work out there. Andrew Donnal had a really good month of December down in Arizona. Then, Brett jumped in there. Van Sloten did a good job against Oklahoma. Those are the three top guys competing for the tackle spots."

Year from hell health-wise

Junior Nolan MacMillan (6-6, 290 pounds) is listed as No. 2 right tackle. This is a significant step. He spent the entire 2011 season injured, including a shoulder injury and sports hernia.

"He's had a good out-of-season," Ferentz said. "I think he's really encouraged right now. I think we saw two years ago he's really capable of being a good football player if he can stay healthy.

"He really practiced well in Arizona a year ago December, not last December. Worked at left tackle as a No. 2. Did a good job there. We'll keep our fingers crossed."

No promises

Ferentz was asked if he made any promises to his son, Brian, about being on Iowa's staff when Brian was young.

Of course not, he said.

“Nah, nah. Absolutely not," Kirk Ferentz said. "The only thing I felt strongly about once he left here and his playing career was over. He just needed to be away. He was trying to come back as a GA a few years ago. The only thing I was sure of, no matter what you’re doing, you need to get away and learn and do all the grunt work, the hard work.

"That’s how you learn and he was in a great graduate school that way. He was lucky to have that opportunity and he did a good job with it, but no, there were no guarantees, promises. Nothing like that.”

Spread, spread, spread

The spread was a question and it got an interesting response.

Quarterback James Vandenberg threw 404 passes last season, the second most for an Iowa quarterback in school history, behind Chuck Hartlieb's 460 in 1988.

Ferentz had a quip for this one.

"It's kind of funny, I was just reading somewhere, I guess we threw the ball last year more than we ever have," Ferentz said. "We didn't get any credit for it, I don't think. But maybe they were conservative throws."

Yes, that was a backhanded remark toward the popular notion that Iowa's offense is too conservative.

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