This item was written by HawkeyeGameFilm
During the open practice Saturday, I focused a lot on the younger players, especially the ones who may be able to contribute this season. There are some young guys who are going to have to step up at various positions and we’ll go through and look at some of them and how they looked.
This was the second full practice I’ve seen of Rudock and Sokol in Davis’s system and both have a ways to go before being game ready. Both looked pretty slightly built at this point and durability would be a concern for both. Rudock’s throwing motion appeared to be modified some from last spring, especially his release, which looked very compact Saturday. Sokol’s throwing motion had also changed and for the better. He had a pretty pronounced side-arm delivery last Spring which he appears to have shaken and was throwing overhand out there Saturday.
If you were going strictly by their performance Saturday Sokol would probably get the nod. However, QB competitions are never about a single performance and Rudock has consistently held down the back-up spot on the depth chart. True Freshman CJ Beathard was also out there Saturday and he displayed a lot of natural physical tools but looked very raw trying to make reads. He’ll have plenty of time to learn the system this fall and could be in a position to join Rudock and Sokol in the competition for the starting job next Spring.
The one position everyone was so excited to get a look at was a bit of a let down due to the absence of Freshman RBs Greg Garmon and Barkley Hill. As expected, Damon Bullock ran with the 1s and walk-on Andre Dawson stepped in for the missing Freshman and worked with the 2s. Bullock and Dawson were solid but neither was overwhelming. The opportunity for Garmon and Hill to earn carries is clearly there and the key for them will be to stay healthy. FB Mark Weisman saw some carries from the single back set with Rogers sidelined and looked better than expected as a ball carrier. He moves well laterally for a big guy, and mostly stuck to getting north and south. He won’t ever be a feature back but if he’s able to be solid in pass protection and absorb five or so carries a game it could be a big help.
Nate Meier got some reps with the 3rd team offense out there. He wears Coker’s old number and has a similar build and style. He didn’t make a lot sharp cuts and was pretty much running on a static line. He doesn’t appear to be an immediate threat to take carries but given the situation at RB he may end on the field before the season is over.
There were some solid raw materials to like at the WR position and the guy who was at the forefront to me was Tevaun Smith. Greg Mabin and Cameron Wilson flashed some ability but looked like they’ll need time in the system before they’re ready to contribute at WR. Smith however had some very impressive skills on display. He made some very nice catches in traffic during the 7 on 7 period and looked very fluid doing so. It may not seem like a big deal, but catching balls in traffic while moving at full speed isn’t something most freshmen can do. During the scrimmage portion Smith didn’t see any targets but I watched him run his routes which were better than I expected. He was fairly smooth in his cuts and has that up-field burst needed to create separation. He looks to have the tools to be a contributor this year. He was working with the 2s WR grouping in some instances and looks to be competing with a number of others for a shot to earn some reps.
Austin Blythe may only be a RS Freshman but he looked and played like a vet out there Saturday. He was technically sound and showed excellent playing strength. He has some natural leverage advantage due to his height, but also played noticeably lower than his opponents throughout the day. He was as sharp as any of the other OL during 1 on 1s and half-line drills. During the situational period and live portions of practice he was very physical and was getting under his guy and moving him off the ball. Blythe’s future looks very bright.
Ryan Ward was working with the 2s offense at LT but looked pretty raw. His base was pretty narrow in pass protection and he wasn’t bending a lot at the knees. He did look to be a pretty strong run blocker and was able to get into the pads of the defenders. He was likely only running with the 2s while Nolan MacMillan is out with a broken hand, but Ward looks like he’ll be a capable OT in the future but will need some time.
Another guy that jumped out at me was Tommy Gaul who ran with the 3rd team at center. He’s undersized but showed solid technique and played with excellent leverage. Another good sign was the level of intensity he played with during both drills and the scrimmage session. When you’re a former walk-on who’s undersized, intensity and drive are a must.
There are some very good young TEs on the Iowa roster and there is wealth of pass catching talent. Neither Jake Duzey or Henry Kreiger-Coble are real big, physical blockers at this point but both can run and provide match-up issues for defenses. Due to the size issues they have as in-line blockers I would guess their roles will be limited but both could play in sub packages. Duzey saw some work in the no huddle packages with the 1s on Saturday and looks like he could be effective in that role. Ray Hamilton looks to fit more as the traditional in-line Iowa TE. He’s got the physical tools to be a contributor but looked raw in terms of technique. He wasn’t getting into his routes cleanly and appears to still be adjusting to the new system. He should grow into a solid player and may be a solid threat as a goal line TE this year. Overall, the outlook at TE is very bright.
Click on this link to read HawkeyeGameFilm’s thoughts on the younger players on Iowa’s defense.