TUESDAYS WITH BORE-Y
Guess who's back for spring? It's Puxatawney Ferentz!
Here's what we learned during yesterday's spring football press conference:
- Dayvion Nixon, who had entered the infamous transfer portal this winter, will remain with the team. It's huge news for the program, namely because (1) Nixon was, by some accounts, as dominant a defensive lineman as Iowa had during practice last year and a four-star recruit who was pursued by Alabama, and (2) Iowa is woefully short on defensive linemen at the moment and couldn't really afford to lose more. Nixon was not listed on the depth chart, which is not necessarily unusual given that he's coming off a redshirt and has never played a snap of college football.
- Two years after the most recent replacement, the Kinnick Stadium turf is again being redone. This is apparently the result of flooding last summer. Given how Kinnick sits, cut into a hole in the ground, drainage is always going to be a problem. That said, replacing a $420,000 turf project every two years isn't exactly sustainable.
- The turf replacement will cancel the spring game, so if you want to see 25 consecutive outside zone runs to the boundary, you'll have to wait until September. There will be an autograph session with some team members before the Iowa baseball game on April 20, and a Hawk Talk radio show with Ferentz and Gary Dolphin (TRIUMPHANT RETURN!) that night at the Hilton downtown.
- Ferentz threw some deserved praise at Toren Young, calling him "underappreciated" last season. Young's numbers were about what you would expect from an offense splitting carries between three halfbacks, but "he’s a guy who’s really productive and energizes our team, I think, when he’s got the ball.”
- Iowa's depth chart showed the traditional 4-3 setup, but Ferentz indicated that the 4-2-5 relied upon through most of last season "is in our DNA" and will be a considerable part of Iowa's defensive philosophy going forward.
- Otherwise, Iowa's certainly seeking replacements for a whole boatload of talent that just left the program. The spring depth chart reads the way a spring depth chart usually reads: With backups moving up a line to fill the space of departing starters and relative unknowns filling in the backup positions for now, but a huge chunk of the two-deep is up for grabs this spring and fall.
FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS
As expected, recruiting coordinator/defensive assistant Kelvin Bell will become the full-time defensive line coach, following the retirement of Reese Morgan.
Bell is a program fixture at this point. Before becoming Morgan's top lieutenant last year, he was on-campus recruiting coordinator, and a graduate assistant before that, and played defensive line at Iowa in the early aughts. He has certainly done good work as recruiting coordinator, and while Morgan's shoes are going to be difficult to fill, Bell certainly has the confidence of the head coach.
No word yet on what Iowa will do with its tenth coaching spot, which is not exactly ideal headed into spring practice. Ferentz indicated Tuesday that he wants to hire a defensive assistant, although he doesn't expect to have a full-on recruiting coordinator going forward.
There has obviously been some hostility toward Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery by portions of the fan base this season. But lest you think McCaffery is going anywhere anytime soon, realize that the entire Iowa sports-industrial complex is running solely on McCafferys for the next four years.
Connor returned from his role with Iowa's basketball team in the NCAA Tournament and promptly filled the cleanup spot in Iowa's baseball lineup Tuesday. Last weekend, he fit in a start and a pinch hit at-bat in between basketball appearances. It's all baseball, all the time, for the elder McCaffery going forward, though Rick Heller is preaching patience. “It’s going to take Connor a little bit of time to get his timing back and get adjusted back to full-time baseball.”
Meanwhile, Patrick is done with his season at Iowa City West and preparing to join the Hawkeyes in the fall. Assuming he is the generational talent advertised, and that Tyler Cook is going to leave early for the pros, the question remains: Where does Pat McCaffery fit for Iowa next year? He has the height to play power forward, but nowhere near the size necessary to hammer away in the post during Big Ten play. The small forward is an obvious spot, but that would require Joe Wieskamp to move to a guard role that's presumably already taken by Isaiah Moss.
It seems most likely that Iowa will go four + one, play Garza in the paint and put slashers and shooters everywhere else, interior defense be damned. Of course, "interior defense be damned" is how the 2017-18 season imploded, so let's hope there's a slightly better strategy in mind. Which brings it all back to the most important McCaffery of them all: Fran, in what feels like an extraordinarily important 2019-20 season to come.
ODDS AND ENDS
Both T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant remain first-round picks in just about every mock draft, especially now that New England is in the market for a tight end (and has an affinity for Iowa guys). Both of them were back in Iowa City for pro day earlier this week.
The Iowa women's basketball program landed the commitment of Hannah Stuelke, a 6'1" forward from Cedar Rapids Washington. Iowa offered Stuelke after her eighth grade year...which was last season. She's a 2022 prospect.
Find someone who will look at you the way Fran McCaffery looks at Nicholas Baer: "“I told him, 'I’ve been doing this for over 30 years. I’ve never been around anyone like you.' I’m going to miss him.”
Busch Light will pay your rec softball team if you win a contest. The Iowa State baseball program has already entered.