Scrimmage primer: QB and beyond
Quarterback is easy, but keep an eye on RB, SS, D-line
IOWA CITY -- Today will be the second scrimmage this week for the Iowa Hawkeyes. It's nearly two weeks into fall camp. It's also two weeks until the season opener.
You probably shouldn't expect fireworks, but that doesn't mean you should tune out.
Perhaps something definitive comes out today regarding the most popular subject in Iowa land, the quarterback position. The Hawkeyes went into fall camp with sophomore Jake Rudock, junior Cody Sokol and redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard running an even race.
Certainly, quarterback will be what you watch today. Will there be a definitive statement? You never know.
1. QB No. 1 -- Right now, reports out of camp have Rudock pulling to a lead with Beathard holding off Sokol for No. 2.
With one scrimmage in the books already this week, really anything could happen at QB today. Remember the Pittsburgh game in '08? The quarterback race was essentially decided in that game. Jake Christensen had his last chance to make plays and lead Iowa to a win, but didn't. Iowa lost 21-20 and the Ricky Stanzi era began in earnest the next week.
If today's scrimmage has teeth, maybe it's the Pitt game. Maybe Sokol and Beathard get a chance to lead. But then, it isn't exactly like Rudock has had a ton of chance to do his thing. There's that whole "no snaps" thing from last season still hanging over all the QBs' heads.
2. Other position battles -- There are a couple of positions up for grabs that aren't quarterback.
Sophomore Jordan Walsh went into camp the N0. 1 right guard. Junior Andrew Donnal made three starts there last season before suffering an ACL injury. Redshirt freshman Ryan Ward, a top 2012 recruit, is lurking, sticking at backup right tackle for now.
"We're going to put our five best guys out there, no matter what," O-line coach Brian Ferentz said. "There's never, 'Hey, this guy is one of our five best, but we're going to keep him . . .' If Ryan [Ward] is one of our five best, he'll play in a spot. I don't know which one it would be, but he'll play in a spot."
Strong safety might be the closest race on the team. Juniors Nico Law and John Lowdermilk are battling it out. Law started the final four games of '12. He fought through an undisclosed injury during spring that opened the door just enough for Lowdermilk to show defensive coordinator Phil Parker that he's a serious candidate for playing time.
3. Wide receiver watch -- So, who are the top three? Under Ferentz, Iowa hasn't dipped much past three WRs when it comes to receptions or regular targeting.
Junior Kevonte Martin-Manley is one. He led the team with 52 receptions last season. No. 2? Can seniors Don Shumpert and Jordan Cotton fight off younger players like sophomore Tevaun Smith? Walk-ons Riley McCarron and Blake Haluska had strong springs and opened some eyes. Iowa signed five WRs last February, including juco Damond Powell.
On media day, offensive coordinator Greg Davis talked about specific plays for Powell.
Martin-Manley, Powell, Smith? Maybe there will be some clarity today.
4. Who gets what at running back -- Juniors Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock have resumes. Sophomore Jordan Canzeri, redshirt freshmen Michael Malloy and Barkley Hill and true freshman LeShun Daniel don't.
Iowa has invested in building Weisman's running back skills. He led the Hawkeyes with 815 yards and eight TDs last season. He fits the mold, he's the No. 1. Bullock showed great versatility in a small sample, with 680 yards of total offense. He missed six games due to concussions.
It's Weisman and Bullock, but it's also Iowa running back, so stand by. Don't be shocked to see Daniels play. The 6-0, 215-pounder is advanced physically.
5. Doings on the D-line -- Iowa has four strong candidates for defensive tackle. Junior Carl Davis leads the way. He showed sustained disruption in the spring. If that follows him into the season, he'll be a force. Junior Louis Trinca-Pasat, sophomore Darian Cooper and redshirt freshman Jaleel Johnson give Iowa bodies inside.
The question of pass rush still hangs over the D-line. When Iowa's defense rolls up sacks, it usually comes from the D-line. In championship-level seasons (2002, 2004 and 2009), Iowa has had 30-plus sacks. Last season, Iowa had 13, a Ferentz-era low.Pass rush, or some sort of disruption, was a key element Iowa missed in '12. Where will it come from this season?