Youth, position battles highlight Iowa media day
|University of Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz gestures to the assembled media as he answers a question during Monday’s media day at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. (Shane Lucas/Daily News)|
IOWA CITY — Heading into his 14th season with the program, there’s hardly anything University of Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz hasn’t seen or dealt with over the years.
Except for this year’s team, that is.
Open position battles and a predominantly young roster were the dominant topics of discussion at the Hawkeyes’ media day held at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Monday afternoon. Regardless of the team being just four practices in, Ferentz appeared confident that the team will change consistently not only in the next few weeks of practice, but into the season as well.
“I think we have a lot of healthy competition at a lot of different spots. That’s certainly a positive,” Ferentz said. “We had a depth chart that’s been distributed, and it really is something you’ll probably be able to throw out the window in a week or two because I think this is the kind of football team that’s going to look different in the weeks ahead, and that certainly may go through September and even into October.”
Despite being one of the most talked about issues in the state over the offseason, the issue of the Hawkeyes’ mass exodus of running backs was only addressed briefly at the beginning of the press conference. Specifically, the dismissal of De’Andre Johnson was addressed before Ferentz turned his attention to the backs remaining on the roster. Only the injured Jordan Canzeri and possible starter Damon Bullock were made available to the media.
“We’re going to coach the guys on the field. We’ve always done that regardless if it’s an injury, discipline issue or anything like that,” Ferentz said. “And we’ve got guys out there that are capable. I’m not sure how it’s going to play out yet. It’s going to be decided here in the next couple months, and we’ll just see how it goes.”
Due to the coaching stability of the program in the past 13 years, the Hawkeyes’ multiple coaching changes were also a frequent topic of conversation. While switching from Norm to Phil Parker on defense apparently isn’t that big of a change, new offensive coordinator Greg Davis found himself frequently surrounded by cameras and recorders.
“A pre-snap read is still a pre-snap read, no question,” Davis said of implementing his offense. “The terminology is completely different, but being able to annunciate plays just takes a while.”
Easily drawing the biggest crowd on the practice field, where players and assistant coaches were interviewed, was senior quarterback James Vandenberg. Due to his experience and the poise he has shown over the past few years, big things are expected of Vandenberg not only in Iowa City, but in the Big Ten overall.
“He brings what you want out of the quarterback position,” Davis said of Vandenberg. “He’s a very confident guy, he’s a good leader and our quarterbacks make a lot of decisions at the line of scrimmage, so if you’re letting them do that within certain parameters, you’ve got to know that there’s a guy that’ll get you the play you want.”
With multiple members of both the offensive defensive lines moving on to the NFL or graduating last season, the trenches appear to hold some question marks for Iowa as practice has gotten under way. Those two areas aren’t the only ones that appear to be up in the air, however, as the Hawkeyes have a strong possibility of matching or surpassing their 10 true freshmen that took the field last season.
“I think it’s realistic, and I think, again, with our football team built the way it is, I don’t know if that number will be 10,” Ferentz said. “But we have a lot of positions open for grabs right now. Typically I think it’s going to be the case this year, it’s a little harder for guys on the interior lines, both lines, to be involved. But I think if you look around the perimeter, the running back, wide receiver, defensive back positions, I think absolutely.”
NOTES: Ferentz confirmed two roster changes at the beginning of the press conference, the first being the confirmation that Dakota Getz will take a medical redshirt this season due to a knee injury. His on-field career at Iowa is likely done, but he will still try to graduate and may have a position with the team in the future.
Also, defensive back Collin Sleeper will serve a “multi-game” suspension for what Ferentz termed as past transgressions. When asked exactly how many games the suspension could be, Ferentz simply replied: “That would indicate at least two.”
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