IOWA CITY, Iowa — There was a spring game at Kinnick Stadium on Friday, which is notable because Iowa doesn’t do spring games.
In the past, the Hawkeyes held an open scrimmage to conclude spring drills but never in a game format. Friday was a deviation from the past, which spotlighted both the team’s positives and negatives.
Here’s a quick breakdown before the game’s conclusion.
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Five things we learned
1. Free safety was a wide-option hole this spring after junior starter Brandon Snyder suffered a tear to his left ACL. Jake Gervase filled in that hole nicely with three interceptions on Friday night, including one for a score. Gervase, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior walk-on from Davenport (Iowa) Assumption, also stopped running back Toks Akinribade on a third-and-1 for no gain. Gervase steadily has move up the depth chart and played in all 13 games last year on special teams.
2. Toren Young is a capable backup to Akrum Wadley at running back. Both Young and Toks Akinribade took snaps with the first-team offense, and Young was the most effective. He brings a physical running style that contrasts with Wadley’s explosiveness.
3. The quarterback battle remains wide open. Neither Tyler Wiegers nor Nathan Stanley showed enough accuracy to win the job vacated by C.J. Beathard. Expect this situation to linger until mid-August.
4. Sophomore Amani Hooker looks the part. Hooker played free safety in the first half (second defense) and strong safety in the second half (first defense). He’s likely behind both senior strong safety Miles Taylor and Gervase, but he showed he can become an eventual two-year starter.
5. Several players didn’t compete in the game, including tight end Peter Pekar and Wadley; middle linebacker Josey Jewell barely played. Defensive tackle Nathan Bazata, defensive tackle Brady Reiff, defensive end Matt Nelson and wide receiver Matt VandeBerg did not compete because of injuries.
Gervase returned his 59-yard interception of Wiegers for a touchdown to give the defense a 16-0 first-half lead.
Quarterback remains wide open, and it’s not because of crisp execution. Neither Wiegers nor Stanley connected with many targets — either wide receivers or backs out of the backfield. That must improve … we all know why.
Gervase’s performance at free safety should put defensive coordinator Phil Parker’s mind at ease. Along with his interceptions, Gervase was around the football making tackles and breaking up passes.
What it means
The Hawkeyes have obvious strengths and obvious weaknesses, and both were on display Friday night. Iowa has good line play on offense and inconsistency in the passing game. Iowa’s defensive line is inexperienced at defensive tackle. Those are the team’s target areas before fall camp begins in August.