Freshmen reported Saturday and veteran players are returning to campus today as the Iowa football team prepares for the first practice of fall camp on Monday evening.
Here are four questions the Hawkeyes will look to answer between now and Iowa’s season opener on Aug. 30 against Northern Iowa:
1. Will Sean Welsh hold onto the starting left guard’s position and how will depth develop behind the four experienced players on the offensive line.
Welsh, a redshirt freshman, moved to the top of the depth chart during spring drills. He will be looking to join Brandon Scherff, Austin Blythe, Jordan Walsh and Andrew Donnal across the front of an offense that has a great deal of potential.
Second-team positions remain fluid as the Hawkeyes hit the field on Monday. Heading into the start of camp, senior Tommy Gaul, junior Eric Simmons, sophomores Mitch Keppy, Cole Croston and Ryan Ward join redshirt freshmen Ike Boettger and Boone Myers in competing for roles that will sort themselves out in upcoming weeks.
2. Will playing time be available for both Jake Rudock and C.J. Beathard at quarterback.
Coach Kirk Ferentz isn’t opposed to finding ways to utilize both quarterbacks in games this season, but he isn’t necessarily married to the notion of established one defined role.
Iowa has used two quarterbacks before, allowing Brad Banks to see action in each game in 2001 as a back-up to Kyle McCann before Banks stepped in to lead Iowa to an unbeaten Big Ten season in 2002.
Expect some experimentation here as coaches try to determine how comfortable the quarterbacks are and how comfortable the players around them are in a dual QB situation.
Both are capable. It’s just a matter of how it all fits together and camp will help coaches determine if it’s going to work in this instance.
3. Who will emerge at left cornerback?
Iowa has questions in the secondary, including who will ultimately start at cornerback on the left side and how depth will develop.
Maurice Fleming and Sean Draper share the top spot of the depth chart at left cornerback as camp opens and sophomore Greg Mabin worked his way into the mix with his performance during spring drills. The spot is as wide open as any on the team heading into fall camp.
There are back-up roles to be determined as well, with a generally inexperienced group of defensive backs jockeying for position behind John Lowdermilk and Jordan Lomax at the safety spots and Desmond King at right cornerback.
With three starters to replace at linebacker, Quinton Alston, Travis Perry and Reggie Spearman open camp at the top of the depth chart but there are roles to be determined there as well with Chad Gilson and John Kenny listed as the back-up to Alston, Josey Jewell and Bo Bower behind Perry and Cole Fisher and Kenny listed behind Spearman. Expect some moving parts there during initial workouts
4. Who will kick and punt?
There are questions in both areas for different reasons.
Mike Meyer completed his eligibility and junior Marshall Koehn returns as the only kicker on the team with collegiate game experience, hitting the only extra-point try he attempted last season. Freshman Mick Ellis could be in the mix here as well.
At punter, Connor Kornbrath returns but will face competition in camp from juco transfer Dillon Kidd as coaches looked for improved consistency in the punting game where Iowa ranked ninth in the Big Ten a year ago.
All of Iowa’s specialists will be working with a new starting snapper as well, with Tyler Kluver replacing consistent Casey Kreiter in that area.