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What to watch for during Saturday’s football scrimmage

[ 5 ] April 13, 2012 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Don’t get too caught up in much of anything during Saturday’s Iowa football spring scrimmage. However, if you’re planning to attend the noon workout at Kinnick Stadium:

Keep an eye on the assistant coaches, check out the running backs (that won’t take long), watch the defensive linemen (then forget what you saw), and see how John Wienke’s switch from quarterback to punter is working out.

Saturday is just another practice for young players who need more seasoning, nothing more and nothing less. Remember Siaka Massaquoi?

He starred at the 2001 event, rushing nine times for 61 yards, two touchdowns and then telling reporters the following:

“I think I made a pretty good name for myself today. Now, it’s just a matter of sitting and waiting for a decision. Kind of like waiting to get a test back. I feel pretty confident with my situation.”

Something happened en route to Big Man on Campus stature. He was the team’s No. 7 rusher in 2001, with 48 yards on 13 carries.

But if you’re attending Saturday’s glorified workout, here are some things to watch – or not watch.

The coaches

Now you see them, now you don’t.

Both new coordinators, Phil Parker on defense and Greg Davis on offense, will be on the field – Saturday.

They’ll call plays from the press box starting on Sept. 1 against Northern Illinois at Chicago’s Soldier Field.

“I’ll be upstairs,” Parker said when asked where he will work during games. “When I first came here, I was in the in the box. Kirk (Ferentz) might want me up there. . . just to stay away from the officials.”

Davis likes the big-picture view, too.

“I’m going upstairs,” he said.

Bullock vs. Johnson

There’s really no battle for No. 1 running back – it’s Damon Bullock, with De’Andre Johnson as his backup.

Regardless what happens statistically when the Hawkeyes actually scrimmage against each other for a quarter, that’s the way they will start in the fall.

That’s also when it gets interesting – when freshman recruits Greg Garmon and Barkley Hill hit campus.

“Talking about the young guys coming in – that’s a position that a lot of times a young guy can come in and contribute,” Davis said.

But not Saturday.

Press coverage

Don’t be surprised to see a defensive back at the line of scrimmage – an arm’s reach from the receiver he is covering.

“Every corner thinks they can play man-up every down, and they’ve done a good job,” Parker said. “We’ve got calls that are designed to get them up there. I think we have talented corners who can take that challenge.”

Another change could be more defenders near the line of scrimmage.

“We’ve played a seven-man box a lot of time,” Parker said when asked about changes.

Fans may welcome that, considering Iowa was seventh in the Big Ten against the rush last season, allowing an average of 156.0 yards a game.

Another Dallas Clark?

That may be a stretch – and unfair – but coaches expect big things from tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz.

“He’s just a big dude,” defensive end Dominic Alvis said of the 6-foot-7, 265-pounder. “He’s very athletic. . . a very powerful dude. He’s going to be a dominating force.”

Fiedorowicz caught 16 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore last season.

“I think we’ll be able to expand his role as we continue to go,” Davis said. “There have been times this spring where he’s been in one-on-one situations, the defensive guy is where he’s supposed to be – and it’s a mismatch.”

How do you stop him?

“Gang tackle,” safety Tanner Miller said.

Just hanging out

Half of what could be the starting defensive line will watch from the sidelines Saturday – both Alvis and Carl Davis are recovering from knee injuries.

“I think mental reps are just as important as physical reps,” Parker said. “It’s probably good for them, especially with Carl, just understanding the whole scheme of things. It’s going to make him a better player.”

Alvis played nine games last season, while Davis played parts of six.

“We’ll be ready to go full bore in June,” Alvis said. “There won’t be any holding us back in the fall.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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