Friday, April 26, 2013
Spring game preview: Iowa
By Adam Rittenberg
Big Ten spring football wraps up Saturday as both Iowa and Minnesota hold their annual spring games/scrimmages. We're taking a quick look at each one.
First up, Iowa's spring scrimmage presented by Coke Zero.
When: Saturday, 3:05 p.m. ET
Where: Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa
Admission: Free. The west and south grandstands are open, and Gates A and G open at 2 p.m. ET. Parking is available in all university lots around Kinnick Stadium. Fans are invited to bring nonperishable food items for the ANF Food Bank Drive.
TV: Live on BTN2Go. Big Ten Network will broadcast scrimmage on tape-delay at 8 p.m. ET Sunday.
Weather: Partly cloudy, 60-64 degrees, winds at 7-9 mph.
What to watch for: Iowa has been more fan friendly this spring, and the theme continues with the spring scrimmage, which will be more like a real game with four 15-minute quarters and a scoring system for both the offense and the defense. Most of the attention will be on the quarterbacks, as Jake Rudock, Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard continue to compete for the starting position.
Rudock looked like the man to beat in the April 14 scrimmage in West Des Moines, although offensive coordinator Greg Davis said Wednesday that he has "no idea" who the starter will be. The race will spill into fall camp, but Saturday marks the final chance for the candidates to impress the coaching staff before the summer. Davis said each quarterback likely will get to lead his own drive in the scrimmage.
"They've all done some really good things," Davis said, "but they have not separated themselves yet."
Fans also want to see who emerges at wide receiver, where returning starter Kevonte Martin-Manley, Don Shumpert and Tevaun Smith are getting the most work. The running back rotation also will be a focal point as Iowa's coaches have talked a lot about using multiple backs on the field together. Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock are getting the most work, and Jordan Canzeri also is in the mix.
The defensive line also figures to be in the spotlight Saturday as Iowa works toward filling out its rotation. Tackle Carl Davis has impressed the coaches this spring, and true sophomore Drew Ott is working as a starting defensive end. Young players like Darian Cooper and Faith Ekakitie also will be in the spotlight Saturday, as Iowa looks to boost its pass rush.
"Faith, he's probably the most intriguing guy," defensive coordinator Phil Parker said. "He can play inside and I think he can play outside as an end. Very impressed with the way he can run and move. We moved him out here late a little bit at the end. He probably had four or five days of practice. So we're intrigued by putting him out on the edge."
Iowa is solid at linebacker but has a few question marks in the secondary. Cornerback Jordan Lomax, who missed last season with a shoulder injury, is in the mix to start opposite B.J. Lowery.