CEDAR RAPIDS - There were plenty of things to like Sunday about the Cedar Rapids Titans.
The sum just didn't equate to a first victory.
Cedar Rapids led for most of its Indoor Football League game with the Green Bay Blizzard, but an inte ... »
— If there is a QB competition, it’s faint. Jake Rudock is in command. He has a high comfort level with the system. He also showed a nice whip to his long passes and touch on the short ones. He did throw two picks. One was off a tipped pass by DE Nate Meier that LB Reggie Spearman was in the right place and right time. The other was a bad decision that OLB Travis Perry easily collected.
Kirk Ferentz said he’s seen quicker, more efficient decision-making from Rudock. That’s always a positive, no matter when that statement is uttered.
— That said, C.J. Beathard and his development is hugely important. Three times last season Rudock wasn’t able to finish games and Beathard guided home a victory in one of those three (it was over when Beathard saw the field against Wisconsin and Iowa fell short in the Outback Bowl against LSU) and that happened to be Iowa’s first win at Nebraska since 1943.
Iowa needs Beathard. Without him, if Rudock is injured, it’s No. 3 Nic Shimonek. He’s not there yet.
— WR Derrick Willies looked great. Thinking back on what he did and seeing the highlights, he is in Iowa’s top six receivers and might have a shot at the top three.
— WRs Derrick Mitchell Jr. and Andre Harris are an exciting combo. Mitchell needs some refinement in his route running, but the rest is there. He could contribute. Harris has great wheels and good hands. I think the X receiver blows the top off the defenses for Iowa. I see Damond Powell and now maybe Harris in that roll.
— WR coach Bobby Kennedy said last week six is the number who’ll likely play. Let’s go 1) Kevonte Martin-Manley, 2) Tevaun Smith/Damond Powell, 3) Willies/Jacob Hillyer (out Saturday with undisclosed injury), 4) Matt VandeBerg/Mitchell, 5) Harris.
— Iowa enjoys an extremely healthy defensive tackle depth chart. Carl Davis and Louis Trinca-Pasat are fully formed fifth-year seniors. Beyond them, Darian Cooper is a more-than-capable junior and Jaleel Johnson and Faith Ekakitie are sophomores with Big Ten bodies. Then, redshirt freshmen Nathan Bazata and Brant Gressel looked smaller in the way freshmen look smaller, but showed great strength and handled themselves well in inside drills.
— Running back, let’s put in a pin in that one. Right now, I’d say status quo, with Jordan Canzeri nibbling at Mark Weisman’s mountain of carries.
— The No. 2 O-line is in a developmental stage right now. Saturday, the second unit included three walk-ons and a junior college transfer. If you had to peg a No. 3 at tackle and guard, you know, first guy off the bench, it’d probably be sophomore Ryan Ward at tackle and redshirt freshman Boone Myers or junior Eric Simmons.
— If you want something fun to watch, check the look on junior fullback Adam Cox’s face when he’s running the ball. It’s a mix of anticipation and determination. Fun stuff.
— Is Iowa in trouble against the pass? Saturday’s result and that result alone would say, yes. Junior Jordan Lomax is still feeling out the free safety spot. Corners got lost a few times with their match-up switches. Willies plucked some passes that, last year at this time, were incomplete. Let’s give this some time. It feels to me, DC Phil Parker uses spring to figure out what he’s got and then ties it all together during the summer and camp. Strong safety John Lowdermilk stressed communication. It really could be that simple fix.
— Iowa didn’t land any DEs in the 2014 recruiting class. There’s a depth deficit there. No. 3 right now? Probably junior Riley McMinn, who’s lost much of the last two seasons to injury.
— Marc Morehouse
— On a passing down, Iowa defensive tackle Darian Cooper twisted to the right and was met by left tackle Brandon Scherff. Cooper barely moved Scherff, and Cooper promptly left the field and discussed the situation with defensive line coach Reece Morgan.
— Late in practice, sophomore cornerback Maurice Fleming and freshman wide receiver Derrick Mitchell were locked up well beyond the whistle during a running play. After several seconds, Fleming tossed down a right-handed chop on top of Mitchell’s arms, promptly a flag and ejection from the officials.
After Fleming left the field, senior middle linebacker Quinton Alston walked to Fleming, urged him to calm down and then provided instruction about the situation.
— Unprompted, Iowa senior defensive tackle Carl Davis brought up freshman defensive tackle Nathan Bazata as a player worth watching in the future.
“All spring he’s been making a lot of plays. He’s been really impressive, being a smaller body guy. He’s really good, he’s a good technician, keeps his hands inside, drives guys back and he makes plays. I think he’ll be a good look for the future.”
— Scott Dochterman
(The rushing game wasn’t an emphasis. The second half of the scrimmage was a passing tournament.)
Jake Rudock 2 carries for 15 yards; Jordan Canzeri 6 for 17; Akrum Wadley 8 for 9; Barkley Hill 7 for 16; Andrew Wellik 6 for 7; LeShun Daniels 11 for 21; 4 for 11 TD; Adam Cox 1 for 15; C.J. Beathard 2 for 8; Damon Bullock 4 for 13
(In the third-down drills, 10 yards were awarded for completions that gained a first down. Those plays were blown dead after the first down was reached.)
Jake Rudock 12 of 22 for 146 yards, two interceptions and three TDs (Kevonte Martin-Manley and Henry Krieger-Coble were in goal-line drills)
C.J. Beathard 12 of 22 for 159 yards and one TD
Nic Shimonek 6 of 9 for 102 yards and TD
— Beathard had a couple chances with the No. 1 unit after Rudock sat down with a sore leg.
WR Derrick Willies 7 for 148 yards TD; WR Andre Harris 4 for 137 two TDs; WR Tevaun Smith 3 for 33; WR Andrew Stone 3 for 31; RB Damon Bullock 3 for 19; RB Barkley Hill 2 for 7; WR Kevonte Martin-Manley 1 for 6 TD; TE Henry Krieger-Coble 1 for 6 TD; TE Ray Hamilton 1 for 10 TD; RB Mark Weisman 1 for 10; TE Jake Duzey 1 for 10; FB Macon Plewa 1 for 10; Derrick Mitchell 1 for 3; TE Peter Pekar 1 for 8
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE (Primary)
LT – Scherff; LG – Shawn Welsh; C – Blythe; RG – Jordan Walsh; RT – Andrew Donnal; TE – Ray Hamilton; WR – Tevaun Smith; WR – Kevonte Martin-Manley; WR – Damond Powell; QB – Jake Rudock; RB – Mark Weisman.
Main substitutions: WR – Matt VandeBerg; Derrick Willies, Riley McCarron; TE – Jake Duzey, Henry Krieger-Coble, George Kittle; FB – Macon Plewa, Adam Cox; RB – Jordan Canzeri; Damon Bullock; Leshun Daniels
SECOND-TEAM OFFENSE (Primary)
LT – Cole Croston; LG – Boone Myers; C – Tommy Gaul; RG – Eric Simmons; RT – Ryan Ward; TE – Krieger-Coble, Kittle; WR – Willies; Derrick Mitchell; A.J. Jones; Andre Harris; QB – C.J. Beathard; FB – Plewa, Cox; RB – Barkley Hill
FIRST-TEAM DEFENSE (Primary)
DE – Drew Ott, Mike Hardy; DT – Darian Cooper, Carl Davis; MLB – Quinton Alston; WLB – Reggie Spearman; OLB – Travis Perry; CB – Desmond King, Sean Draper; S – Jordan Lomax, John Lowdermilk
Raider package: In – Nate Meier, Cole Fisher, Chad Gilson; Out – Hardy, Cooper, Davis
SECOND-TEAM DEFENSE (Primary)
DE – Riley McMinn, Nate Meier; DT – Jaleel Johnson, Faith Ekakitie; MLB – Chad Gilson; WLB – Laron Taylor; OLB – Cole Fisher; CB – Maurice Fleming; Greg Mabin; S – Nico Law, Anthony Gair
Others: DE – Melvin Spears; DT – Nathan Bazata; LB – Josey Jewell; CB – Malik Rucker; S – Solomon Warfield
PUNT – Snapper: Tyler Kluver; LT – Spearman; LG – Plewa; RG – Fisher; RT – Perry; WB – Lomax; Lowdermilk; FB – Alston; P – Connor Kornbrath; Dillon Kidd
PUNT RETURN – Kevonte Martin-Manley, Andre Harris, Riley McCarron, Desmond King
FIELD GOAL – Snapper: Kluver; Linemen: Hamilton, Donnal, Walsh, Simmons, Scherff, Croston; WB – Duzey, Krieger-Coble; Holder – Kidd/Kornbrath; Kicker – Alden Haffar/Marshall Koehn