IOWA CITY, Iowa – It was good seeing Iowa Football’s open practice Saturday here at Kinnick Stadium. It would have been even better if we were watching more of the Hawkeyes.
Quite a few of them were sidelined with injuries that have kept many of them out throughout the 15-practice, spring football session. The list included all three projected starting linebackers in Jack Campbell, Seth Benson and Jestin Jacobs.
The injuries cost Iowa reps this month. It made practicing challenging because there just weren’t enough guys. At one point, the team had only four healthy receivers.
Saturday’s annual open practice was shorter than years gone by. It lasted about 90 minutes compared to these workouts in the past, some of which ran two and a half hours.
I know I missed some guys, but my list of absentees Saturday included Luke Lachey, Keagan Johnson, Diante Vines, Justice Sullivan, Kaevon Merriweather, Griffin Liddle, Nick DeJong, Jeff Bowie, Ethan Hurkett, Deavin Hilson, Terry Roberts, Joe Evans, Justin Britt and Michael Myslinski. There were more.
Hilson wore an immobilizer brace on his right leg. DeJong’s right arm was in the sling. Hurkett’s right leg was wrapped. Most of the others looked to be moving around well.
-As per normal, the defense looked better than the offense as a whole on Saturday. The D-Line made life difficult on the O-Line, and in turn, pressured the quarterbacks often.
-The quarterbacks struggled. Starter Spencer Petras experienced the toughest day. It should be noted that he took most of the reps against the No. 1 defense and didn’t get much help from others on his side of the ball.
No. 2 Alex Padilla found a little more success than Petras. He and third-teamer Joey Labas enjoyed some highlights but also were inconsistent. Labas completed the most passes but also played almost exclusively against the No. 3 defense.
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Labas looked like he was running different plays than the other two at times. He worked a lot on roll-outs and almost all this throws were made on the move.
I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in what we saw Saturday as it pertains to the quarterback competition. I will say that based on reps Petras is the clear No. 1.
-The defensive line showed that it could be dominant and deep. It pressured the quarterback and stuffed the run regularly Saturday.
Lukas Van Ness looks natural on the outside after racking up seven sacks on the inside in ’21. Yahya Black frequently disrupted the offense Saturday. Chris Reames flashed a few times.
-Logan Jones is a work in progress after switching from defensive line to center this offseason but you can see the makings of a success story. The competition to replace Tyler Linderbaum should be as hot as the temperature in August.
-The poor spring weather has kept Iowa inside most of the spring. That could have contributed to the rough performance from kickers Aaron Blom and Drew Stevens. Windy conditions played a role as well.
-I like what I saw from the inexperienced linebackers with the starters sidelined Saturday. Jay Higgins played fast and would likely start on quite a few other teams.
-Walk-on receivers Jack Johnson and Kaden Wetjen helped Labas complete a high percentage of his passes. They caught just about everything thrown their way.
-Cooper DeJean spent a lot of time at Cash on Saturday with Sebastian Castro at strong safety in place of the injured Merriweather. Quinn Schulte took the first-team reps at free safety.
-Touted true freshman safety Xavier Nwankpa ran with the third team most of the day. Fellow newcomer TJ Hall lined up as a No. 3 cornerback.
-Brenden Deasfernandes took first- and second-team reps at cornerback. He performed well and looked more physical than in the past.