With the temperature set at a pristine 61 degrees and a slight wind blowing from the north, Valley Stadium in West Des Moines was the perfect environment for Iowa’s “Metro” Scrimmage on Friday night. Officially branded “Iowa Football Swarm Des Moines” because the Iowa AD is all about #BRAND, it was the Hawkeyes first opportunity to show the public what they’d been working on since the opening of spring practice a couple weeks ago. It was also the first time that the scrimmage was played on a Friday night, as it’s usually played on a Saturday evening.
Unfortunately, before the scrimmage even began, we received a gut shot:
Some not good news. pic.twitter.com/teqIp1RV19
— marcmorehouse (@marcmorehouse) April 7, 2017
Brandon Snyder is projected to be Iowa’s starting free safety and Jerminic Smith is listed as Iowa’s #1 wide-receiver. Smith’s situation can easily be remedied by, y’know, actually going to class, but Snyder’s status for the entire season is now called into question. Fortunately for the Hawkeyes, they’re extremely deep… at… free… safety…
What do you mean it’s another walk on?
ACTIVATE THE GERVASE PROTOCOL.
Smith joined Nathan Bazata, Matt VandeBerg and Matt Nelson as high profile players that didn’t participate, as VandeBerg is still recovering from a broken foot and Nelson has an undisclosed leg injury. In other news that is sure to ease everyone’s anxiety:
Akrum Wadley has fielded a few punts. Something to remember. #Hawkeyes
— Jeremiah Davis (@jeremiahdavis10) April 7, 2017
Devonte Young is listed as Iowa’s starting punt returner but Akrum’s explosiveness is undeniable. With his fumble troubles safely in the past, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Wadley will be returning punts in the fall. However, it’s more likely that Matt VandeBerg will take on that role once he returns from injury. The old adage of “better safe than sorry” was actually first scribbled by Kirk Ferentz after Amari Spievey fumbled a punt return in 2009. True story.
Here’s a few other observations from Friday’s practice based upon what we saw on Hawkeye All-Access:
- Tyler Wiegers took first team reps but didn’t really take advantage. One of his passes was to no one and another was batted down at the line. Nate Stanley didn’t look much better. Ryan Boyle is easily the shiftiest of Iowa’s lineup, as he has a certain “Drew Tate” flare to him.
- The quarterback who actually looked the best was Drew Cook. He had a nice completion (completions were rare) and didn’t make any noticeable mistakes. The curious thing about Cook is that he was also catching passes and I swore I even saw him on punt return drills. This leads me to wildly speculate that Iowa isn’t quite sure what they want to do with him but want to get him on the field in one manner or another.
- Running backs were difficult to gauge as this wasn’t full contact, but Toren Young showed a little bit of explosiveness as he was taking a good number of reps in the 11 v. 11 drill. Toks was taking reps with Drew Cook and Wadley was nowhere to be found. It was only a practice but it was nice to see a couple of rarely used plays including a draw and a new formation:
New formation had two wide on each side, with TE Hockenson among them.
— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) April 8, 2017
- Dominique Dafney was on screen a lot, almost coming down with an impressive diving catch and (I believe) catching a pass in the end zone later in practice.
- Nick Easley is unquestionably your spring practice Heisman Winner and all around hype magnet. The nations leading JUCO receiver, who walked on at Iowa instead of Iowa State, was all over the field. The Kid Captain for the game was directed to give Wiegers a play during the scrimmage, which turned out to be the Annexation of Puerto Rico. It wasn’t actually the Annexation of Puerto Rico (it was an end around) but nonetheless, Nick Easley turned a corner, a sonic boom was heard and a touchdown was scored.
So what did we learn? Nothing. It’s April 7th. The offense struggled (because it’s April 7th) and Iowa is looking for players at wide-receiver and safety. We already knew that, and it’s likely that process will continue throughout the spring and up until week one this fall. We’ll know more by the final spring game on April 21st. See you then.