Iowa Football

Iowa football still putting on that new coat of paint for 2018

And, you'll probably be happy to know, some of it is going on the water tower

IOWA CITY — Yada, yada, yada, the University of Iowa is painting the water tower.

So, that happened Friday night. The actual painting of the tower that peers over the northeast corner of Kinnick Stadium didn’t happen. Iowa announced that a Tigerhawk logo and a block “Iowa” logo will be painted onto the tower this summer and be completed before the home opener Sept. 1 against Northern Illinois.

Cost of the branding project is expected to be $25,000-$30,000.

Your long national — OK, regional, very, very regional — nightmare is over.

“You have a Tigerhawk anywhere and people give you the ‘Go Hawks.’ I think it’s outstanding,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said after the Hawkeyes' final spring practice, with 9,300 fans in attendance Friday night.

So you can picture it, the Tigerhawk logo will face southwest, to align with the northeast corner of Kinnick. The “Iowa” lettering will be placed on the northwest side of the water tower.

There was that bit of frivolity Friday night. The practice turned out to be more like a game setting. Iowa scored one touchdown late, with No. 4 quarterback Ryan Schmidt finding wide receiver Dominique Dafney, and kicked a pair of field goals.

A couple of injuries took some wind out of Friday night’s practice.

Senior linebacker Aaron Mends suffered what looks to be a torn ACL in practice Wednesday. Ferentz said in the postgame that “it’s going to be tough” for Mends to make it back this season. The 6-0, 228-pounder from Kansas City, Mo., spent three seasons waiting his turn behind an accomplished group of senior starters. Defensive coordinator Phil Parker announced Tuesday that Mends was going to be the starter at weakside linebacker.

And then this.

“Aaron is a great young guy, he can’t seem to catch a break right now,” Ferentz said. “That’s tough, really tough.”

Junior Kristian Welch got the start. He’ll be a candidate on the weakside. Senior Jack Hockaday also will push. Sophomore Barrington Wade is starting to make a push. Redshirt freshman Nate Wieland missed spring with an injury, but should add a body to the competition this fall.

Mends was installed as the starter at the beginning of spring. This will take some time to sort out, but junior Amani Jones was relentless at middle linebacker Friday night.

If the Kinnick Stadium P.A. wasn’t playing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” it was the P.A. announcer saying Jones’ name for making a tackle.

“He’s got a natural vibe to him, a juice,” Ferentz said. “[space]... He’s done some good things for us on special teams, now the trick is get that to every down playing out there. He’s made a lot of progress.”

Stanley had two interceptions. Iowa also was without senior Nick Easley, the leading receiver with 51 receptions last year. Tight ends Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson didn’t play a ton. So, the offense was a little short-handed.

Earlier this week, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz said he wants Stanley’s completion percentage (55.8 in his first season as starter) to tick up. Stanley heard that loud and clear.

“I obviously want to improve completion percentage and a lot of that is ball placement,” Stanley said. “That’s something I’ve continued to improve on, I’m not perfect yet. I want to continue to build on that.”

Stanley finished 12 of 20 for 105 yards and the two interceptions. Sophomore wide receiver Max Cooper was the big winner, catching seven passes for 77 yards.

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“The good news it wasn’t just today,” Ferentz said in reference to Cooper’s night, “but it wasn’t much more than today. He’s one of those guys, nothing bad but nothing of note. The last couple of days, he’s come alive. It’s like there is a guy wearing No. 19 out there, so hopefully, that’s the start of a trend and not just a blip on the radar.”

It was just a spring game and the offense was missing a few teeth in the passing game, but Iowa’s safeties showed up. Junior Amani Hooker waited on a tight end throwback pass and picked it off. He tipped another pass to senior safety Jake Gervase for another interception.

Sophomore Geno Stone made a few impact plays in games last season as a true freshman. And senior Brandon Snyder is on his way back from an ACL injury. Iowa might have four safeties it can trust.

“It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out. We trust in the coaching staff,” Gervase said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a rotation at some point, but we can’t get to that until Snyder is back 100 percent and fall camp comes.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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