Hawkmania football & basketball blog

First signs of fall

Two public practices have provided a few hints about what fans can expect this fall from the Iowa football team.
Injury-related absences – running backs in the first scrimmage, top returning receivers in the second – prevented a full glimpse of progress that Hawkeye coaches have seen through the first 19 practices.
A few general observations:
* Iowa will likely blitz more with Phil Parker as the Hawkeyes’ defensive coordinator. That has as much to do with Iowa’s defensive personnel as it does with Parker’s own beliefs. Expect Iowa’s defense to be a bit more aggressive than it was during Norm Parker’s 13 seasons as the defensive coordinator and that does mean additional blitzing. But, with a young defensive line, that may become even more a part of Iowa’s look at least initially. Parker has suggested, and Iowa’s scrimmages have shown, a willingness to commit additional personnel to the box to help the newcomers up front deal with whatever is coming their way.
* Iowa’s defensive line has some talent, albeit raw talent, but talent. Carl Davis and Darian Cooper will be dominant defensive linemen in the Big Ten as their careers progress. Both have the right mindset for their roles, lacking only experience at the onset of the season.
* Iowa isn’t as bad off at running back as people might think. Damon Bullock shows growth at the position while holding onto the No. 1 spot on the depth chart and he provides Iowa with a true receiving threat out of the running back position.
Newcomers Greg Garmon, Barkley Hill (before suffering his injury today) and Michael Malloy all have solid ability. Garmon and Hill, in particular, showed solid decision making, good hands as receivers and according to coaches have done well on maintaining possession of the football, a critical element in the eyes of Hawkeye coaches.
* The first true freshman to see the field for Iowa may well be punter Connor Kornbrath. He did all of the punting in today’s scrimmage and working without much pressure beyond audio crowd noise showed good hang time and distance.
* There are still plenty of decisions to be made. The defensive line continues to be fluid and at strong safety, Nico Law and Tom Donatell are making decisions difficult for coaches at the top of the depth chart for all of the right reasons. They’ve both performed well throughout fall camp.
Saturday’s scrimmage ended the camp portion of the fall. Players move out of a hotel and into dorms and apartments now in preparation for the start of fall semester classes on Monday.
Practice times will be much more structured over the next two weeks as Iowa works toward its Sept. 1 opener with Northern Illinois.
Both Phil Parker and offensive coordinator Greg Davis expect coaches to begin settling on depth for the opener during discussions over the next few days although both caution that they wouldn’t be surprised to see things remain fairly fluid at several positions over the first few weeks of the season.
“Performance in practice and in games can sometimes be two different things,” Davis said. “We keep an open mind, and keep our eyes open, too. We’ll continue to learn along with the players.”

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