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Monday, April 29, 2013
Spring game recap: Iowa

By Brian Bennett

Our spring fling with the Big Ten has come to an end. Our final spring game recap of 2013 turns to Iowa, where the offense won 61-37 before 16,500 fans. You can find coverage of the game here, here, here and here.

Star of the game: Defensive tackle Carl Davis had three sacks and batted down two passes. On the offensive side, true freshman Cameron Wilson caught 10 passes for 131 yards.

How it went down: First of all, don't get too excited about that final score, because it was a modified scoring system that head coach Kirk Ferentz said favored the offense.

Still, there were some positives to be taken out of this game for the Hawkeyes' offense. We might as well start with the quarterbacks, where a three-man battle raged all spring between Jake Rudock, Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard. All three had good numbers on Saturday:

Rudock: 18-of-29 for 174 yards

Sokol: 13-of-18 for 183 yards and a touchdown

Beathard: 10-of-20 for 110 yards and a touchdown.

None of the quarterbacks threw an interception, and except for a fumbled exchange involving Sokol, avoided big mistakes. Rudock didn't throw a touchdown, but ended his day by going 6-for-6 and leading the team down the field for a score in a two-minute drill. Iowa coaches insist that it's still even between the three, though it looks like Rudock and maybe Sokol have the upper hand.

"We didn't plan on making any decisions coming out of today," Ferentz said. "All three are doing good things and have things to work on. We'll try to address those things moving forward."

Just as encouraging was the play of some receivers who weren't well known before this weekend. That includes the redshirt freshman Wilson, who had a breakout performance, and walk-on junior Blake Haluska, who had four catches for 58 yards.

“I’ll be honest, he was fairly invisible for the majority of spring practice, and then this past week he has really done some good things,” Ferentz said of Haluska. “He had a good practice both Wednesday and Thursday and caught our eye. And certainly today, he took another step forward. And historically for us, we’ve needed people to step forward that maybe nobody saw coming, stories that you didn’t see coming. I’m not ready to crown him right now, but certainly this has been a good three-day period, not just today. And we need help everywhere, so it would be a great thing."

Running backs Damon Bullock and Mark Weisman didn't do much, and after the game Bullock said he'd been practicing at receiver. Redshirt freshman Michael Malloy was the leading rusher, with 12 carries for 56 yards.

Davis was the story of the day for the defense. He's always had impressive physical tools, but has been hurt a lot during his career. Iowa could really use someone to step up and become a dominant pass-rusher on a defensive line that looks underwhelming on paper.

"I’m starting to understand everything,” Davis said. "Things are starting to click. ... I want to be able to do that -- three sacks in a game -- this fall,"

It was a pretty good show for the fans and by Iowa, which broke with recent tradition by staging more of a game than a regular practice. Though Ferentz said the scoring system reminded him of "an arena game" at times, he might stick with the new format.

"We'll certainly consider it," he said. "I bet when I walk in [to the locker room] the defensive guys will be complaining and the offensive guys will say it's a great system."