As usual, Iowa’s final spring football event isn’t the same as some other schools. There’s no spring game and this year. There’s no contrived scoring concept like they tried a few times. It also appears that there won’t even be a real scrimmage portion of the practice.
In a nutshell, it looks like Hawkeye fans and the media will simply get a look at Iowa football practice and that beats no look at spring ball at all.
As we get ready for our final look at the Iowa football team this spring, let’s dive into questions for each position group.
WHAT DO WE THINK OF THE NEW QB1?
Iowa has a new starting quarterback and it’s Cade McNamara. The former Michigan signal caller arrived in January and has put his stamp on this team from a leadership perspective. But, he’s also coming back from a pretty significant surgery and appears to be doing well.
McNamara said that he was hoping to be full speed by the end of spring ball and if that’s the case, hopefully we will get to see what he can do on Saturday. Iowa will certainly be very careful with him and he will be in a no contact situation, but I think all Iowa fans just want to see him working against the defense and completing passes.
WHO IS THE LEADING CANDIDATE TO BE THE BACKUP QB?
There’s an extra question for the quarterback position and that is who will be backing up McNamara this fall? The interesting thing is that there are really only two options right now, Joe Labas, who led Iowa to a win in the Music City Bowl, or Deacon Hill, who has transferred in from Wisconsin.
The best guess is that Labas will probably get the nod on Saturday simply because he has more experience in the program, but will that hold when we get to August? Time will tell, but we have heard Labas has made some progress.
WHAT’S INTERESTING IN THE BACKFIELD?
I think there are two things that are interesting in the backfield. First, fullback Eli Miller apparently tore his ACL this spring, which means Iowa is really looking for a fullback. Will someone move over or could the Hawkeyes use more of an H-Back type look with one of their tight ends filling that role?
As far as running backs, I think we know what to expect from Kaleb Johnson and Leshon Williams. By the way, when we got a brief look into practice, Williams looked slimmer than last year. But, my most interesting player is Jaziun Patterson. He received plenty of praise during bowl prep. Is there room for a third back in Iowa’s rotation and what could that role be?
IS THE OFFENSIVE LINE ANY BETTER?
This might be the most important question for the Iowa football team heading into the 2023 season. The Hawkeye offensive line was not good last season. Every player on that offensive line knows it and has had to live with it. In order for Iowa to be better on offense, it starts up front. It always starts up front with the offensive line.
Kirk Ferentz always says center is where it all starts and after struggling last season, will Logan Jones take a step forward? I’d bet on Jones.
Is the buzz coming out of camp about Gennings Dunker real? It sure feels like there’s a basis for the buzz. Dunker missed some time early in camp, but he has been really good lately and could end up being Iowa’s starting right tackle.
ANY SURPRISES AT WR/TE?
It seems like every spring the Iowa receiver room becomes depleted. This year was no different and the room was pretty small when it comes to scholarship players anyway. We were hoping to get a look at Jacob Bostick this spring, but he’s out. Seth Anderson has been out as well and my guess is they will be very careful with him.
WHAT DOES THE PASS RUSH LOOK LIKE?
After the Music City Bowl, Iowa was probably hoping that Lukas Van Ness would decide to stick around and actually become a starter. Instead he did what was almost certainly the right thing and should end up as a first round pick in a week.
That opens the door for a player who really played well last year and was under the radar and that’s Deontae Craig. He has a chance to be a double figure sack artist this season. We all know what Joe Evans can do and I’d keep an eye on Ethan Hurkett and Max Llewellyn.
At defensive tackle, I’d keep my eyes on Aaron Graves. He did some pretty significant things last year as a true freshman and I think he takes a huge leap in his sophomore year.
HOW CROWDED IS LINEBACKER?
Really crowded and also very talented. And they still don’t have perhaps their most talented player in Virginia transfer Nick Jackson, who will be arriving after graduation.
Yes, there are massive shoes to fill with Jack Campbell and Seth Benson off to chase their NFL dreams. Jay Higgins has drawn huge praise from the Iowa coaches, so he will be out there. But, there’s a host of very interesting players to watch this spring. Kyler Fisher is a guy that the coaches really like. Carson Sharar has been called the next great Iowa linebacker. Jaden Harrell is on the rise and we have heard a lot of good things about Zach Twedt. Then there’s walk-on’s Jaxon Rexroth and Kelby Telander, who were on the two deeps.
HOW COMFORTABLE IS IOWA WITH THE DEPTH IN THE SECONDARY?
That probably depends on the position. Iowa seems really strong as far as a two deep at safety and Cash. The starters are Quinn Schulte and Xavier Nwankpa, but Sebastian Castro has done well at Cash and Koen Entringer is on the rise in a big way according to the coaches.
Where Iowa might be a little lean is a cornerback. That showed up last year when Terry Roberts was hurt, Jermari Harris was out for the season and then Cooper DeJean got knocked out against Nebraska. Iowa didn’t have another answer. T.J. Hall has had a good spring, so we will get a look at him along with Deshaun “Bean” Lee. But, Iowa is also looking at the transfer portal for a corner and I think they wouldn’t mind adding one.