The spring workouts are in the books and the long offseason has arrived. But before diving into summer and the painful wait for football to return, we’re taking a look back at the developments from March and April and sneaking a peek at what to expect in the fall for Iowa.
Three things we learned in the spring
There’s no need to worry about a second-year slump for quarterback Jake Rudock: The junior out of Weston, Fla., has built upon his success of last season. The Hawkeyes have a capable backup in C.J. Beathard, but no controversy exists about the No. 1 guy after Rudock ran the offense with precision this spring.
The linebacker positions are in good hands: The departures after last season of Christian Kirksey, Anthony Hitchens and James Morris -- who started more than 100 games as a group and collected nearly 1,000 tackles -- caused some anxiety. But Quinton Alston in the middle, Travis Perry and Reggie Spearman have stepped in nicely.
Iowa will be deep at receiver: We knew before the spring that this area would rank as a strength for the Hawkeyes, with Kevonte Martin-Manley, Jacob Hillyer and Tevaun Smith back to catch balls from Rudock. But the development of youngsters Derrick Willies, Matt VandeBerg, Andre Harris, Derrick Mitchell and Damond Powell has excited Iowa coaches.
Three questions for the fall
How will the secondary come together?: Cornerback Desmond King is a bona fide star after his breakout freshman season, but the Hawkeyes need to find a starter at free safety, where Jordan Lomax and Anthony Gair continue to compete. Opposite King, Maurice Fleming and Sean Draper are even, and John Lowdermilk is trying to maintain an edge on Nico Law at strong safety.
Who will take the lead at running back?: Iowa knows it can rely on senior Mark Weisman, but he’s fought injuries and likely can’t survive an entire season of pounding between the tackles. Junior Jordan Canzeri offers intriguing athleticism. The New Yorker rushed for 481 yards last season, including a 165-yard performance at Purdue.
Can the defensive line live up to its billing?: These guys are good, no doubt. Anchored by tackles Carl Davis and Louis Trinca-Pasat, both of whom started all 13 games a year ago, the Hawkeyes’ front four likely rates as the strength of the entire team. Juniors Drew Ott and Mike Hardy bring experience to the end spots. If this group improves like it did last season, look out.
One way too early prediction
Brandon Scherff will take home some hardware in December. He was denied a spot by the league’s media on the All-Big Ten first team as a junior. There will be no such worry in 2014. In fact, Scherff will vie for the Outland Trophy and earn a spot on All-America teams from his left tackle spot after opting to turn down a chance at the NFL this offseason.