Stats, lineups, impressions from Des Moines
If Rudock forged a lead at QB, it was his decision making
WEST DES MOINES -- This is just a minor measure of things, nothing more.
The QBs did trade every two plays. With penalties (and there were at least six flags dropped), C.J. Beathard and Cody Sokol collected 39 snaps to Jake Rudock's 38. That's pretty good for whomever is keeping track.
One of the most interesting things shared Sunday was Sokol saying he shared the No. 2 QB role last season with Rudock. No idea on what percentage you could put to it, but that's the first we've heard of that. It says 1) Sokol did some good things right away in his first season on campus and 2) the competition is on.
All the usual caveats (meaning this is one practice, so this is hardly stenciled in granite), but it's pretty hard to come away from Sunday and not think Rudock is the leader.
He's calm, cool and has a lead in field vision. He made sounds decisions. Sunday's numbers will bear that out.
That said, the competition is far from over. You can tell coaches are intrigued with Sokol's athleticism and it feels as though Beathard is getting a chance to make a case. Through most of this week, he'll get as many reps as the other QBs.
No one is out of it. Will the ability to run factor? I don't think so, but Iowa showed the zone read about a half dozen times, maybe more. Rudock took one for 7 yards. Is Iowa trying to be or do too much on offense? Is that a look Greg Davis wants opponents to take seriously? No conclusions, just clues right now.
If Northern Illinois were tomorrow, Rudock would be the starter. The second most interesting thing said Sunday? Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz isn't in a hurry on this. Sunday was practice nine. It's a marathon and not a 3-yard out.
Jake Rudock -- 15 of 20 for 171 yards and three TDs -- He missed a few placements, but also put the ball where it needed to be around the goal line. The TD pass to TE Henry Krieger Coble was sort of a back-shoulder throw. Iowa tried to complete one of those last season and couldn't do it. The St. Thomas Aquinas program that Rudock comes out of is a highly refined football factory. How much can he still grow? What is his ceiling? In the here and now (a place where Iowa goes into 2013 with a six-game losing streak, seventh longest in the nation), how much does that matter?
Cody Sokol -- 4 of 13 for 60 yards -- He is perhaps the most athletic. He also might be the most flexible of the three, meaning he seems to have a "do whatever it takes to make the play" mentality. Where Rudock might not make a move until all mechanics are in place, Sokol just does things. This can work or it can be turnovers waiting to happen. BTW, no QB came close to throwing a pick. The only bobble was Sokol dropping a shotgun snap. Sokol threw for 3,000 yards at a junior college in Scottsdale, Ariz., that had the nickname "Fighting Artichokes." Scottsdale is beautiful, but in the college football world, someone who's a Fighting Artichoke really wants this. Teammates seem to respond to him in that way.
C.J. Beathard -- 6 of 15 for 44 yards -- Natural skills are apparent. He is the only two of the three who didn't run Iowa's offense last season. That's also apparent. Ferentz downplayed that, however, when spring practice started: "He was a scout team quarterback. He ran our offense and was in on every meeting, traveled to every game, all those types of things. When you are around people on a continual basis, seven days a week or six days a week, you really get a pretty good feel for what they are. Needless to say, the circumstances are going to change for all those guys now. Really all of us have a positive feeling about all three guys."
If there's a 1987-like turnabout -- when Chuck Hartlieb went from No. 3 in spring to No. 1 in fall, and set lots and lots of records -- it's Beathard. He might have the most upside. Right now, it's not about that for Iowa. It's about getting to wins and who that QB is going to be.
RB Damon Bullock -- 11 carries for 16 yards and a TD
This was clearly a gear-down for Bullock. He missed six games last season, including four to concussion. Ferentz and RB coach Chris White have said they like what they've seen and pretty much know what they have in Bullock. In talking to Bullock, he's very positive and embraces the potential of a three-headed RB situation with Mark Weisman and Jordan Canzeri. He also really digs the zone read, which sounds tweaked (check out the video in the next post or two). Bullock is clearly bigger, stronger. He also said he's good with going out to the slot and even farther to the outside.
RB Jordan Canzeri -- 19 carries for 149 yards
Those numbers are a headline, but some of the big damage -- runs of 39 and 15 yards -- came against the third-team defense. Ferentz has maintained that he was really close to yanking Canzeri's redshirt last fall and throwing him in despite ACL surgery last March. The redshirt stuck and so this could be the benefit, a fully charged Canzeri. No one was quicker through the hole. Canzeri has electric feet. He was so far of himself on a couple of plays that he was on top of the second-level D before they could react. Canzeri has a knack for running to open space. At 192 pounds, he's not the classic Ferentz-era Iowa back, but there is more than one way to do this. He probably walked off the field Sunday as the most intriguing offensive weapon.
RB/FB Mark Weisman -- eight carries for 57 yards
At 6-0, 236, Weisman is the classic Iowa back. Sunday, he was featured in a couple of sweeps that looked absolutely no fun to be on the receiving end of. Yes, he did line up in the classic fullback position, but only a few times. He also was the single back a few times in the three-wide receiver sets. Davis and Ferentz are more interested in growing Weisman's running back skills than molding him into a fullback. He missed two games last season and was limited in two others (ankle, groin). Running back might be the most healthy position on the team (gasp, knock on wood and all that stuff about superstition).
FB Adam Cox -- 17 carries for 69 yards
I don't want to say the 5-11, 215-pounder is Mark Weisman II, but when Iowa goes into fullback mode, Cox looks the part and might be able to handle it. Good inside runner and was tough to bring down.
FB Macon Plewa -- three carries 13 yards
Same category as Cox, but bigger (6-2, 234). It'll be interesting to see how much the FB is in the plans this season. I don't see Iowa recruiting another fullback maybe ever (and you can argue they haven't for several years), but I do see walk-ons like Cox and Plewa being inducted into the position once they're on campus.
I counted seven drops. Not good. Passing game won't get better with that kind of number in 120 or whatever snaps. Also, getting open and open quickly didn't regularly happen.
Junior Kevonte Martin-Manley, the leading receiver last year, didn't do anything in scrimmage time. He didn't appear to be hurt and probably does fall into the "know what he can do" category.
WR Jordan Cotton -- 5 catches for 46 yards
He was targeted for a quick WR screen. He also was the blocker on one. Neither went for much, but it was a new look. Also, Iowa showed a couple stacked sets out of this. Needs work, but it is another move in the repertoire. Cotton was tried over the top of the defense. No one was, really. Same story there for this group.
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz -- 4 catches for 87 yards
All systems go for the senior. He has a giant eagle and American flag tattoo on his right biceps. If he keeps up this pace, get used to see that in HD next fall. CJF looked refined and relentless. He was less of a big target after catches, or at least seemed to be. With 45 catches, he had a pretty great year last season, he just never dominated games. Maybe that's next. It appears to be there.
TE Ray Hamilton -- 3 catches 56 yards
The junior has a real knack for getting open. He had a drop and bobbled another pass before catching it. If that smooths out, Hamilton will be a nice complement to CJF in the in-line TE position. (Iowa ran quite a bit of "11" and "12" personnel. Wonder how much the second TE's efficiency dictates that? I'm guessing not very much, but Hamilton might be able to move that along.)
WR Jacob Hillyer -- 3 for 14 yards
The sophomore was steady. It's getting late early for a lot of WRs, though. KMM didn't do anything Sunday and five signees will be here in August. The time is now.
WR Riley McCarron -- 3 for 21 yards and a TD
The walk-on has made the jump from "interesting scout team guy" to "hey, who's that?" this spring. The next stop is a regular in the rotation. Right now, he's probably fighting for No. 4 with Hillyer, which is borderline in the rotation depending how deep new WR Bobby Kennedy goes with the depth chart.
FB Macon Plewa -- 2 for 20
Check downs count for yards, too.
TE George Kittle -- 1 for 11 with a TD
Iowa will have seven scholarship TEs on the roster this fall. Kittle is looking at a special teams tour before seeing the LOS.
TE Henry Krieger Coble -- 1 for 8 yards and a TD
HKC seems to have a knack making plays facing the QB, which, if that's a technique OK'd by the staff, could be valuable around the goal line. He was the only "B back" to catch a pass Sunday. That whole "B back" thingie instead of fullback on the spring depth chart doesn't mean a whole lot. The "move" TEs are basically H backs and they are HKC and Jake Duzey. Sunday, they didn't see much action with the No. 2 TE being "in-line" Hamilton. What does this mean in the long run? Probably not a lot.
WR Don Shumpert -- 1 for 5 yards
He had two drops. Ball's in his court.
WR Cameron Wilson -- 1 for 3 yards
They tried one session, but the wind was coming strong so no conclusions here. No one missed. Senior Mike Meyer and then sophomore Marshall Koehn on the depth chart probably sticks. Junior walk-on Alden Haffar has a strong leg.
Not a huge emphasis here and this is the one good look we've had in nine spring practices, but it's hard to see what separates Connor Kornbrath from Jonny Mullings. Consistency is a safe word, but Iowa probably will punt between 70 and 80 times next fall. It's an important job.
LT – Brandon Scherff; LG – Conor Boffeli; C – Austin Blythe; RG – Jordan Walsh; RT – Brent Van Sloten; TE – C.J. Fiedorowicz; QB – Jake Rudock; RB – Damon Bullock; WR – Don Shumpert, Jacob Hillyer, Riley McCarron.
FIRST-TEAM DEFENSEDE – Dominic Alvis; DT – Darian Cooper; DT – Carl Davis; DE – Drew Ott/Riley McMinn; OLB – Christian Kirksey; MLB – James Morris; WLB – Anthony Hitchens; LCB – B.J. Lowery; RCB – Jordan Lomax; FS – Tanner Miller; SS – John Lowdermilk