IOWA CITY, Iowa — Spring practice is over. Iowa wrapped it up with the spring game, and the Gold defeated the Black 63-47 on Friday night.
What did the Hawkeyes learn over 15 practices? What were the biggest takeaways? Here are five things that stand out from the spring.
1. Quarterback is a work in progress
Signal callers Tyler Wiegers and Nathan Stanley have a long way to go. Their spring game performances left a lot to be desired.
Neither pulled away during the 15 practices in March or April.
“It’s been back and forth a little bit, and sometimes they look pretty good and other times a little bit off,” said coach Kirk Ferentz after the spring game. “Our timing wasn’t great tonight in certain areas. It’s hard, we’re not really cohesive right now offensively, and it’s not a big surprise.”
Ferentz isn’t concerned with the quarterback play. He wants to see what progress they make over the summer.
Stanley, the backup to C.J. Beathard last season, has been the favorite to win the job. He can still start, but it’s a closer race than expected. The competition will go carry over into preseason camp. The Hawkeyes need a quarterback to take control of the competition and show progress come August.
2. Jake Gervase stepped up at free safety
Because of a lack of experience at free safety, starter Brandon Snyder looked like a player the Hawkeyes couldn’t afford to lose. He tore his left ACL in April.
Jake Gervase has made the most of his opportunity. He did more than make 3 interceptions in the spring game. He put together a strong spring. Plenty of questions surround the secondary heading into fall camp. Gervase, a junior, likely provided an answer at free safety.
3. Toren Young could earn time in the backfield
Iowa limited running back Akrum Wadley in drills following a knee procedure this winter. It gave backups Toren Young and Toks Akinribade additional reps. Both received high praise from the coaching staff, but Young excelled in the spring game. He consistently broke tackles and made made defenders miss. He rushed for 96 yards and also scored on a 14-yard run.
Iowa likes having two backs share carries. Wadley will get most of the work, but Young looks like a runner on the verge of earning playing time.
“They were downhill,” said Wadley of Young’s rushing attempts. “They were vertical. They were violent. Toren reminds me of LeShun (Daniels) with his vertical and violent (running style). He gets downfield. One person is not tackling him. Third-and-inches, he is going to get that first down.”
4. Wide receiver is still a question
Iowa needs to see improvement at wide receiver, but the spring wasn’t the best time to judge progress. Depth was non-existent. Tight ends showed an ability to make plays, but the passing game needs more than them.
The Hawkeyes won’t be able to gauge where things sit at receiver until preseason camp.
5. Newcomers will get a chance to play
Ferentz won’t be afraid to play newcomers this season. In fact, Iowa needs them at wide receiver and at defensive back. The door is open for the Class of 2017 to make an impact right away.
“We can’t count on that at any position, but the door is open at running back, receiver, and I would say in the secondary, too,” Ferentz said. “We’re not exactly deep back there.”