Everybody at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday will have their eyes on the three-way quarterback battle between Jake Rudock, Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard. Here are five other areas to watch in Saturday’s 2 p.m. scrimmage, courtesy of the Register’s Andrew Logue:
Kevonte Martin-Manley (52 catches for 571 yards) was the only Hawkeye receiver with more than one touchdown last season. He had two. That won’t cut it, especially in an offense that’s supposed to be moving into the 21st century. Who will step up? Redshirt freshman Riley McCarron, a walk-on from Dubuque, showed flashes of his potential two weeks ago at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines. For senior Don Shumpert, time is running out. Five incoming receivers who aren’t yet on campus will get a chance to contribute in August. “The thing that you’ll get to know about me is, I’m not a guy to sit back and play favorites just because I like you,” first-year receivers coach Bobby Kennedy said. “The best guys are going to play, and if it’s a freshman, if it’s a redshirt freshman, those guys coming in are going to have an opportunity.”
Seven lettermen return, and each has started at least once. Right tackle Brett Van Sloten and left tackle Brandon Scherff anchor the unit. Conor Boffeli and Andrew Donnal hold down the guard spots. The real intrigue is at center, where Austin Blythe is adjusting after starting nine games as a right guard. “The experience was good,” Blythe said. “Being able to play is going to help me this year. It hasn’t been too bad of a transition.”
This appears to be a position of strength. Then again, the Hawkeyes seemed stacked in 2010 with Brandon Wegher, Adam Robinson and Jewel Hampton. The current backfield options includes Mark Weisman, Damon Bullock and Jordan Canzeri. “I’m super excited,” first-year running backs coach Chris White said. “I think we have a great combination coming back with Mark and Damon. And they’ve bought in big-time.”
Hawkeye coaches seem high on 6-foot-3, 287-pound freshman Faith Ekakitie, who has spent time at tackle and end. “We have a chance to move him around,” defensive coordinator Phil Parker said. “He’s very athletic and he can run.” Carl Davis (6-5, 310 pounds) gives Iowa a big body inside. “Sometimes, he can really be a hard guy to block,” Parker said. “We have to be a little more consistent. I think he enjoys football a little bit, he enjoys coming out to practice. That’s helping with his progress.” Dominic Alvis started all 12 games at left end last season.
Keep an eye on the play of Jordan Lomax, a 5-10, 190-pound sophomore who gets first chance at filling the void left by standout cornerback Micah Hyde. Safeties Tanner Miller and Nico Law return to the secondary after combining for 97 tackles and six pass breakups. Cornerback B.J. Lowery made 50 tackles and one interception. “B.J., in my opinion, is playing at his highest level right now,” Parker said.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football