Tuesdays with Bore-y, Only it's Wednesday and Bore-y Wants to Talk Brad Banks for Once
Wednesday was another media day for Iowa assistants. Taking the dais this week were receivers coach Kelton Copeland and [rubs eyes] [shakes head in disbelief] IS THAT KOK'S MUSIC?
[T]he Hawkeye quarterbacks coach's time has been spent looking for the next Drew Tate.
He’s still searching.
With five spring practices remaining, the race between true sophomore Nathan Stanley and redshirt junior Tyler Wiegers to become Iowa’s 2017 starter remains too close to call.
“It's neck and neck,” O’Keefe said. “And they're going at it like it is at this point, too.”
The decision, O’Keefe said, will come down to “who moves the team. Who is making first downs. You know, Drew Tate … separated himself years ago when he would jump in. He could move the second team during two-minute (drill). He separated himself right there.”
Beathard could have been Drew Tate, if injuries and shaky protection hadn't turned him into Drew Bledsoemuchheneededatransfusion instead. But even from the limited time we've spent with Nathan Stanley and Tyler Wiegers, the "next Drew Tate" comparison isn't fitting too well. If we're looking for the spark that turns a moribund offense into a brush fire, the Neo messing up your system, it's probably going to have to come from elsewhere.
Here's what else we got from Wednesday's assistant interviews:
O'Keefe says Stanley and Wiegers are "neck-and-neck" for the starting position, which could either be a motivational tactic for Stanley, a damning indictment of Greg Davis' quarterback ranking acumen, or a shift in what the offense needs (as you'll see below, I think it's Door No. 3). "I have no idea how far it will go or when somebody separates totally from the group, but competition is never bad," he said in response to a question of whether this would extend into August camp.
KOK mentions timing and dropbacks about 134 times in a five-minute interview, showing (1) Iowa is getting back to its West Coast Offense basics (and likely away from Greg Davis' sight reads), and (2) because of that change, Wiegers might have an actual chance at this. The necessary skills haven't changed, but the emphasis on those skills likely has.
One of O'Keefe's answers on timing is arguably the greatest summation of quarterbacking I've ever read. It's long, but I'm just printing the whole thing, because if you're going to appreciate this sport, you need to read it.
I think we’ve tried to treat the progression of everything that it does develop timing. So for instance, we teach the drop where you kind of do it in place where you develop a rhythm for what the drop might be. It’s like a dance routine in a lot of ways. So we do it in place and they develop the rhythm. Then we half-speed them through it, we’ll full-speed them through it, so they get their feet down.
We’re always teaching what their reads are as we go along, so they get the rhythm of their feet where they’re supposed to be. Next thing you do, you take it out. You take the drop out there, and we teach the routes the same way to a large degree. Okay? So now you take the receivers and now we’re going to throw routes. Right? It’s all we’re going up against. Shouldn’t be too hard, should it?
If we have a route that’s supposed to be run at a certain yardage and supply, step, drop, the ball’s supposed to be off on the plant, we’ll start to work on that. We’ll focus on that right there. Number one I’ll focus on is the ball coming out on the plant like it should be. If that’s what I want. Is it coming out? I want hitch. That’s another part of it. So those types of things are the things you look for. Is it on time versus air?
Now they develop, hey, this is how it feels in my head. You guys all talk about the clock in your head? That’s how you develop the clock in your head. You build the rhythm with the drop and then with the route. Next thing you do is put the readout there. So simple read is flat curl. So somebody covers the flat, you throw it to the curl. Somebody covers the curl, throw it to the flat. Decision making isn’t really hard.
Then next thing it comes down to is ball placement. Where do you want the ball thrown? Inside shoulder, outside hit. Whatever it is that you may be teaching, those would be the things that you’re after as you progressively teach the pass game in the order that makes sense to the players and in the order that will allow them to build the timing that you need in the pass game in order to be successful. And hopefully with that comes the anticipation that we’re talking about. You know, that makes the biggest difference in the game.
You look, all the great quarterbacks all had great anticipation. You wonder how did he get that ball there? How did he get that ball there? They just did it enough with people that, you know, they understood each other pretty well.
In a timing-based offense -- which is clearly where Iowa is going -- there are about six components of a completed pass. That description above is how you get five of those six working right. The sixth is defense, which is the only variable not in the offense's control. So get the first five right, then teach the sixth all fall. Makes sense.
Nick Easley is going to be a thing, people. Copeland said so. Prepare yourselves:
He’s a guy that really opened my eyes. Just from meeting with him in the meeting room. He’s a guy that’s very attentive. Gives you great body language, whether it’s in a meeting setting or whether it’s on the field or even in a social setting. He does a great job of being very attentive. He gives you his eyes. He’s a very yes-sir, no-sir-type person. He asks great questions in the meeting room.
He surprised me before we got on the field. He caught my eye. When we got on the field, that translated over. His attention to detail translated over into his play. If you were out in practice, wherever the last time you were out at practice, you would have seen that result in production. And that’s what it’s all about.
Copeland dodged questions on Jerminic Smith, who missed Friday's open practice in Des Moines and will miss the rest of spring due to academic issues. He referred those questions to Ferentz, as he should, with only one quick mention: "The ball’s in [Smith's] court" as to whether he'll return to the team.
For the fifth consecutive offseason, incoming freshmen are in the plans at receiver: " I will never guarantee any young man coming in, whether I’m recruiting him or he’s assigned to incoming freshmen that he’s going to play. But the opportunity for you to come in and play, absolutely."
Aside from Easley and the freshmen, it's generally open. Falconer gets some mentions, as does walk-on Dominique Dafney. If you asked me right now, I'd expect VandeBerg and Easley, with Jerminic Smith (if he returns) and at least one freshman in the two-deep, but wide receiver might be the most difficult position group to prognosticate at this point.
FINALLY, after a decade of 1979 Pitt and Gordy Bohannon references, KOK comes back and drops some knowledge from games we actually remember:
I don’t see anybody taking off and running for 60 yards on the first play in a two-minute drill like Brad Banks did against Purdue. He screwed us up and left all that time on the clock. What are we going to do? Slow it down?
For those who don't remember, this is what he's referencing:
2002 Iowa-Purdue remains the greatest college football game ever played, and I'm glad there's finally someone on staff who agrees.
One week after losing Brandon Snyder to an ACL tear, Iowa is down an offensive lineman due to the same malady:
Dalton Ferguson, a second-string offensive tackle on the Iowa football team, suffered a torn ACL and had surgery Monday.
That will likely cost the junior the 2017 season. Ferguson, a 6-foot-4, 312-pound native of Solon, has already used his redshirt season.
The bad news: Iowa doesn't have a lot of tackles sitting around. For more than half a decade, the Hawkeyes struck out on pure tackle recruits, hence the former walk-on and converted tight end almost certain to start this season. The good news: There is a former walk-on and a converted tight end almost certain to start this season, and Ferguson was probably behind redshirt freshman Alaric Jackson (an actual tackle recruit) as the next guy in off the bench. Offensive line coach Tim Polasek said last week that the squad was working to develop an eight-deep rotation with positional versatility, and there was no sign that Ferguson was among those eight.
Elsewhere, in the wake of Snyder's injury, redshirt freshman running back Noah Clayberg has moved to defensive back.
“The good news is we had a good feel about Noah when we recruited him. I really kind of thought that was where he would end up playing, but his preference was to start out at running back,” Ferentz said.
Clayberg played quarterback in high school, one of those Ferentz/Parker defensive back signals going back to the beginning of their tenure.
The final decision on the tenth football assistant is coming either today or tomorrow, as the NCAA Division I Council meets to discuss that and other rule changes. Whereas nearly everyone believed a tenth assistant would be added immediately following this meeting, many coaches now think the addition will be delayed until the next offseason to avoid shaking up coaching staffs during or after spring football following an amendment proposed by our friends at the MAC.
In mid-February, an amendment pushed by the MAC was added that could push the implementation of the rule from immediately to January 2018.
“An April effective date is in the middle of the budget year for the membership and is late in the hiring period for a football staff,” the amendment reads. “If the effective date is amended to occur to the conclusion of the 2017 football season, member institutions will have the opportunity to budget for the addition of a full-time countable coach and associated costs related to recruiting.”
The bottom line: Schools with more resources would like it right away. Those with less would rather it get delayed.
It makes a lot of sense, in both a budgetary and timeline sense, for this to get moved to the next offseason, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a time where the Power 5 conferences were stymied by something the MAC wanted to do. This could go either way.
CoachingSearch.com says that most staffs plan to move a graduate assistant or quality control coach into the tenth spot, or hire someone not currently working, to avoid any disruption: "Some coaches think 75 to 80 percent of the 10th assistants will be promoted from within — either a young GA or an experienced analyst — or hiring a coach who is out of work." I would expect Iowa to do exactly that, as well, although Ferentz did tell reporters previously that the interviews for the football staff's two open positions this winter gave them a pool of applicants should a tenth spot open up.
The tenth assistant isn't the only rule change up for voting this term. There's also a potential coaching disaster on the horizon, thanks to Jim Harbaugh:
Bylaw 11.4.3 reads: “In bowl subdivision football, during a two-year period before a prospective student-athlete’s anticipated enrollment and a two-year period after the prospective student-athlete’s actual enrollment, an institution shall not employ (or enter into a contract for future employment with) an individual associated with the prospective student-athlete in any athletics department noncoaching staff position or in a strength and conditioning staff position.”
In plain English: if a college program is to hire a high school coach it must immediately hire him to an on-field position, or it can not have recruited a player from that high school for two years prior to hiring the coach and must also refrain from recruiting players from said high school for another two years after his employment. That’s an entire cycle of high school players a college program would have to bar itself from in order to hire a single coach.
There is also a companion rule proposed which would prohibit college programs from hiring or bringing in as a volunteer any high school coach of a recruited player to work at the program's summer camp, which is even more insane.
These changes are coming from the usual source: Overreaction to Jim Harbaugh.
It was referenced in the Michael Johnson saga, where Jim Harbaugh hired an offensive analyst who happened to be a California high school coach and the father of a top-rated quarterback in the class of 2019. (Johnson also happened to be a former NFL offensive coordinator and never actually joined the Michigan staff, accepting the wide receivers job at Oregon just days after the Michigan news broke.)
This rule is going to essentially eliminate high school coaches from consideration for vacant entry-level college coaching positions unless the coach takes some time off or has no recruiting relationship with the program he's joining. Neither of those are particularly likely -- like most jobs, entry-level college coaching positions are in large part about who you know -- so only the best high school coaches, guys with the resume justifying a coveted on-field position, are going to get hired.
But this is the new normal: Harbaugh takes the existing rules and stretches them to the point of snapping, the rest of football overreacts with a poorly-thought-out rule proposal, it gets passed, then reversed when the obvious effects begin to occur, and Harbaugh starts all over again on a different rule.
Odds and Ends
All three Iowa basketball recruits in the Class of 2017 -- guard Connor McCaffery, forward Jack Nunge, and center Luke Garza -- were listed among the final Rivals Top 150. Rivals ranked Garza No. 107, McCaffery No. 116 and Nunge No. 147. Cody Goodwin at the DMR has a nice breakdown of their senior seasons. The takeaway: They all were as good or better than expected, and they're going to hit the ground running in Iowa City.
This Jarrod Uthoff NBA thing is getting interesting. He played 26 minutes and posted12 points and 9 rebounds in a loss to Phoenix on Sunday, and followed it up last night with 11 points in 19 minutes against Memphis last night:
Uthoff throws down! pic.twitter.com/vrei1AnnXl
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) April 13, 2017
NFL Draft predictions are almost uniformly awful, and Mel Kiper is no exception. But a list of Kiper's worst Draft predictions that includes Ricky Stanzi? Awful Announcing hates 'Merica is what that is.
Speaking of Ricky, he's taking one last shot at gridiron glory in the Spring League, a four-team, six-game football league acting as career rehabilitation for a bunch of former NFLers looking to make a roster this fall. Pro Football Talk says Stanzi is the league's best quarterback, which might not be the most ringing endorsement of the league. It does, however, give us nostalgia like this practice clip of Ricky throwing deep outs in black and gold:
WATCH: QB Ricky Stanzi again, zipping passes into spots where only his receivers can get it... pic.twitter.com/rnYS8wS6Nr
— The Spring League (@TheSpringLeague) April 9, 2017
The stories aren't new, but they're worth remembering: Tom Crean has been a pretty good guy to Fran McCaffery, and to a bunch of other people, too.
Iowa wrestling is helping local law enforcement learn "defensive tactics" over the offseason. It's an interesting idea, and anything that can help an officer delay or avoid having to draw a taser or a firearm is probably a good thing.
Oral histories are overdone, but this one of the Shawn Kemp-Gary Payton era Seattle Supersonics is a real page-turner. Like all things Shawn Kemp-related, it's highlighted by this:
Big E is officiating weddings in Los Angeles for three days next week, and people are getting engaged in the mentions just for the opportunity to be wedded by a legend.