It's spring practice time, and so we get to hear from a couple of assistant football coaches every week. On the one hand, it's the only time all year we get answers from Kirk Ferentz's underlings. On the other hand, they got through an interview with Kirk to get the job, so they know the drill. Here's what developed this Tuesday with offensive line coach Tim Polasek and newly-minted running backs coach Derrick Foster.
- Look, it's Foster's first go at this, and it's certainly possible that his style is simply different than the usual aw-shucks Midwestern humility that we're accustomed to seeing, but it's been a decade since I've heard praise for a first-time starting halfback of the kind I heard for Toren Young on Tuesday. He's the best receiver out of the backfield, he's "downhill," he's got great vision, etc. "Iowa is about halfway through spring practice and Young, a 5-11, 221-pound redshirt sophomore, seems poised to be the featured back, or at least the back who sees the majority of the carries," writes Marc Morehouse this morning, and he's not wrong.
- There's been a secret AIRBHGing while nobody was looking: Iowa has only four scholarship halfbacks practicing this spring. There's Young and running mate Ivory Kelly-Martin, who were paired in a platoon last season, and redshirt freshmen Kyshaun Bryan and Camron Harrell backing them up. That's it. That's the list. It doesn't seem as if Toks Akinribade is scheduled to return anytime soon, Barrington Wade moved to linebacker, Markel Smith didn't qualify, and Eric Graham and C.J. Hilliard left. Iowa will add freshman Henry Geil in the fall, and freshman athlete Samson Evans feels like an inevitable halfback, but that's a light depth chart regardless.
- It sometimes feels like Tom Polasek has been on staff for twenty years. This is one of those times: "We are seeing some guys who are taking off their pajamas and getting into their big boy pants."
- Polasek said that the tackles, Alaric Jackson and Tristan Wirfs, are learning both the left and right positions this spring so that they can move as necessary with injuries. Mark Kallenberg, who received a not-insubstantial amount of praise from Polasek on Tuesday, is the only other true tackle on the roster, so they need position versatility.
- Levi Paulsen, who was slated to take over at right guard, is out for the rest of spring practice. His twin brother Landan has been splitting those reps with Cole Banwart and Jake Newborg. Kallenberger might get some reps at guard, and Banwart is also backup center, and suddenly this looks like a typical Iowa line: Two locked-in tackles with an interior rotation trying to find the best five guys.
- Polasek said the line played "too flat and lateral" against Michigan State last year, which is code for "we couldn't get past their defensive line and block a linebacker." And that's the story of every Michigan State-Iowa game in the last seven seasons.
Summer is definitely not ready when Iowa baseball is: This weekend's series against Ohio State has been moved back a day due to predicted cold temperatures and snow on Friday.
— Dargan Southard (@Dargan_Southard) April 3, 2018
Cold-outs do exist in the B1G: According to what Dargan found from the Big Ten, if wind chills are below 28 degrees and not predicted to get above 28 degrees before the start of a game, that game's not played. If it's 29 or above, it's up to the administration to decide whether to play. This series might get postponed entirely, because temps aren't looking so hot later in the week, either.
All of this comes against the backdrop of an Iowa team on a roll. D1Baseball.com ($) has Iowa listed among its teams "on the upswing" this week after taking three of its last five from ranked opponents Indiana and Illinois. Losing momentum because winter won't give up and get the hell out of town is the ultimate buzzkill.
ODDS & ENDS
Land of Ten profiles Iowa's other secret weapon, defensive line coach and recruit whisperer Reese Morgan.
Jake Adams is starting his minor league season in familiar territory: Playing for the Quad Cities River Bandits.
Former Tom Davis recruit Paul Lusk, who until recently was the head coach at Missouri State, is now a member of Greg McDermott's staff at Creighton. Lusk played in a dozen games as a freshman in 1991 before breaking his leg and transferring out of the program.
Purdue special teams coordinator Tony Levine left the Boilermakers to start a Chick-fil-A franchise, which is basically "Eric Johnson leaves Iowa to open a Culver's" only with much, much, much worse food.
Remember Biff Poggi from rhabdogate? His younger son, Henry, played at Michigan and has opinions on frosting, and Biff is reacting the way any father would.
Im proud of you son.
— Biff poggi (@BiffPoggi) April 4, 2018
It's Wrestlemania week, which is how you get platinum rapper John Cena absolutely crushing it on the Number One Show in Late Night.
And finally, maybe my favorite person ever Mike D talks with Vulture on the state of rap, his life, the Beastie Boys, and whether "got more hits than Saduharu Oh" is more or less obscure than "I got mad hits like I was Rod Carew."