Spring-game analysis: Beathard's mixed bag, Duzey's replacements
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard had one uh-oh throw (out of 32), which was intercepted by safety Brandon Snyder, during Saturday's spring game at Kinnick Stadium.
He followed it up with another no-no — lowering his right shoulder into Snyder to knock him out of bounds.
In a real game, sure, preventing a pick-six would've been the proper play. In a spring game while wearing a red no-contact jersey when there's a big drop-off to your No. 2 quarterback? Not so much.
Kirk Ferentz was asked if he freaked out at that moment.
"Yes, I did. That was unnecessary," the 17th-year head coach said. "If I had a whistle — which I never carry a whistle — I would have blown one if I had one. I should've coached him better on that."
Beathard had a different story on the coaches' reaction.
"They were happy that I got up and made the tackle," the junior said. "I played safety in high school."
So, the quarterbacks
Beathard's health is a prized possession for the Hawkeyes. He's the unquestioned leader of this team with two-year starter Jake Rudock transferring to Michigan.
Go-to wide receiver Tevaun Smith said Beathard hasn't been afraid to get after teammates if they make a mistake. The quarterback was tough on himself, too.
In addition to the pick, he overthrew Smith on a few deep balls — including one that was a sure six. But it was a cold, windy day in front of 8,000 or so at Kinnick, and Beathard made a lot of crisp, accurate throws, too.
He finished 17-for-32 for 168 yards in his first spring game exclusively with the 1s.
"It sucks to miss touchdowns, but that's part of it," Beathard said. "We got better as a team (in the spring). That's all that matters, really."
Tyler Wiegers ran the second-team offense. He looked better than his final stats (6-for-18, 66 yards, one interception) indicated — and much improved from even two weeks ago at Valley Stadium.
"The last five practices, we've really seen him start to take off," Ferentz said of the freshman. "I think this has been a really good period for him."
Offense 29, Defense 28 was the final score in a complicated scoring system that rewarded both sides.
But in the 75-minute scrimmage, there was a notable lack of touchdowns. Similar to what happened at Valley (where the defense held the offense to a single field goal in a similar time frame of 11-on-11), the defense was the more advanced unit.
Akrum Wadley, who led all running backs with 13 carries for 80 yards, got into the end zone in the fourth quarter on a 4-yard run. Though it came against a defense of second- and third-stringers, the end zone was a welcome sight after five earlier drives resulted in field-goal attempts. (Incumbent kicker Marshall Koehn was 3-for-3 on his tries.)
"If we would've went through that whole time without scoring a single touchdown, that would've sucked," Beathard said. "We had a lot of good drives, and they were getting in the red zone and got points out of it."
Replacing Jake Duzey
Though depth is a concern in other areas, Iowa seems positioned to weather the news of Jake Duzey's probable knee surgery. The starting senior tight end will likely miss the start of the season after suffering a "significant" injury in Wednesday's practice. HawkeyeReport.com reports that Duzey, who made 36 catches a year ago, tore his patellar tendon.
Duzey was on crutches Saturday, which enabled George Kittle (three catches, 48 yards) to shine. Ferentz called Kittle one of the spring's most improved players.
But Henry Krieger-Coble — who wore a non-contact jersey this spring after shoulder surgery and didn't play Saturday — could be the name to know this fall. Despite the precautions, he spent the spring laying out for catches during 7-on-7 drills, Ferentz said.
"He's not supposed to be in contact," Ferentz said, "but he's been on the ground, I swear, more than anybody on our team.
"He's a really good football player. And again, I'm optimistic we'll get Jake back. He might not be game-ready in September realistically, but hopefully by late September, October, he can get back and be a real helpful player for us."
Grading the offensive line
The running back that's been written about the most all spring, LeShun Daniels Jr., had five carries for seven yards, and Beathard was "sacked" (touched; play blown dead) three times — once each by Drew Ott, Matt Nelson and Kyle Terlouw.
Translation: The offensive line still is a work in progress.
"I don't think it was our best practice of the spring," said center Austin Blythe, the only veteran member of a unit which is breaking in new tackles in Boone Myers and Ike Boettger. "But that's what we've got the rest of the summer and all of camp for."
Offensive line is the life blood of Ferentz's teams, so this is one area where he gets the benefit of the doubt in developing a formidable front five by the Sept. 5 opener vs. Illinois State.
Two of Iowa's most experienced players — defensive ends Drew Ott and Nate Meier — are speeding up the process for Myers and Boettger.
"They're getting schooled by two pretty good ends at times. But that's good for them," Ferentz said. "They don't know that maybe, but it's good for them."
IOWA FOOTBALL: SPRING GAME STATS
The Des Moines Register and Cedar Rapids Gazette combined to keep these unofficial statistics and playing charts; the U of I does not produce official statistics for its spring game.
Passing – Beathard 17-for-32, 168 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT; Wiegers 6-for-18, 66 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT.
Rushing – Wadley 13-80, Mitchell 7-53, Hilliard 7-18, Canzeri 3-8, Daniels 5-7, Joly 3-7 (1 lost fumble), Beathard 4-(-13).
Receiving – VandeBerg 6-52, Kittle 3-48, Scheel 2-23, Canzeri 2-22, McCarron 2-17, Pekar 1-17, A.Harris 1-12, Kulick 1-10, T.Smith 1-9, Hillyer 1-9, Mitchell 1-7, Wisnieski 1-7, Wadley 1-1.
Field goals – Koehn 3-for-3 (made 32, 34, 44); Ellis 0-for-1 (miss 51); Recinos 1-for-1 (made 35).
Punts (avg.) – Kidd 3-46.0, Koehn 2-40.0, Kornbrath 2-34.5.
Sacks – Ott 1, M.Nelson 1, Terlouw 1.
Interceptions – Fisher 1, Snyder 1.
LT – Boone Myers; LG – Eric Simmons; C – Austin Blythe; RG – Jordan Walsh; RT – Ike Boettger; TE – Henry Krieger Coble (no contact); WR – Tevaun Smith; WR – Matt VandeBerg; QB – C.J. Beathard; FB – Macon Plewa; RB – Jordan Canzeri.
OTHERS: WR – Jacob Hillyer; FB – Adam Cox; RB – LeShun Daniels, Akrum Wadley, Derrick Mitchell Jr.; TE – George Kittle, Jon Wisnieski.
LT – Cole Croston; LG – Keegan Render; C – Steve Ferentz; RG – Mitch Keppy; RT – Dalton Ferguson; TE – Jon Wisnieski; WR – Andre Harris; WR – Riley McCarron; QB – Tyler Wiegers; FB – Drake Kulick; RB – Akrum Wadley.
OTHERS: WR – Jay Scheel, Jonathan Parker, Joshua Jackson, Connor Keane; RB – Derrick Mitchell Jr., C.J. Hillard, Marcel Joly; FB – Steve Manders, Austin Kelly; TE – Peter Pekar; G – Lucas LeGrand; T Dalton Ferguson
REGULAR TWO-DEEP DID NOT PRACTICE (INJURY/UNSPECIFIED): T Ryan Ward, WR Andrew Stone, TE Jake Duzey
DE – Nate Meier; DE – Drew Ott; DT – Jaleel Johnson; DT – Nathan Bazata; OLB – Ben Nieemann; MLB – Josey Jewell; WLB – Bo Bower; CB – Greg Mabin; CB – Desmond King; SS – Miles Taylor; FS – Jordan Lomax
NICKEL: CB Maurice Fleming, DT Faith Ekakitie for LB Bo Bower, DT Nathan Bazata
DE – Matt Nelson; DE – Parker Hesse; DT – Faith Ekakitie; DT – Kyle Terlouw; OLB – Cole Fisher; MLB – Travis Perry; WLB – Aaron Mends; CB – Maurice Fleming; CB – Sean Draper; SS – Brandon Snyder; FS – Anthony Gair
OTHERS: CB Malik Rucker, Omar Truitt; DE – Melvin Spears, Sam Brincks, Brady Reiff, Terrence Harris; DT – Jake Hulett, Daniel Gaffey; LB – Jameer Outsey, Jacob Sobotka, John Kenny; S – Kevin Ward, Jake Gervase
WB – George Kittle, Jon Wisnieski; Snapper – Tyler Kluver; Line – Ike Boettger, Jordan Walsh, Mitch Keppy, Keegan Render, Eric Simmons, Cole Croston; Holder – Connor Kornbrath; Kicker – Marshall Koehn
OTHERS: K — Mick Ellis, Miguel Recinos
PUNTER (in order) – Dillon Kidd, Marshall Koehn, Connor Kornbrath
PUNT RETURN (in order) – Desmond King, Riley McCarron, Matt VandeBerg