10 takeaways: Rick Brown's thoughts on Iowa media day
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Iowa rolled out its 2015 football team for media day Saturday. Talk replaced action, at least for a few hours. Unless you're starting quarterback C.J. Beathard.
"I'm a humble guy," Beathard said. "I don't like talking about myself."
Beathard answered plenty of questions Saturday, but he left the sense that he wanted to do his talking on the field of play.
"We're all excited to get last season out of here and get on to this next season," Beathard said. "I can't wait until the season comes."
That will be Sept. 5, against Illinois State at Kinnick Stadium. Here's what the Hawkeyes were talking about Saturday.
Behind the 8-ball
Iowa could start three defensive players — ends Drew Ott and Nate Meier and right tackle Nathan Bazata — who played eight-man football in high school.
"It's like all things in life: Good people, exceptional people, come from all backgrounds, all places," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Ferentz used a different sport, golf, to make his point.
"You look at a guy like Zach Johnson, what he's done in the golf world, and look at his story," Ferentz said. "I think that's a neat thing about it."
A new tight end
Tight end has always been a position of strength at Iowa, and there's a new player thrown in the mix. Jameer Outsey, a redshirt freshman from Somerset, N.J., has moved from linebacker to tight end.
"At linebacker, we had a lot of guys with experience," Outsey said. "I played linebacker and tight end in high school. I love Iowa's offense, and they definitely love the tight end and go to them a lot."
Iowa's depth there is also better with redshirt freshman Jon Wisnieski, who sat out last season after suffering a knee injury.
Returning senior tight end Jake Duzey will miss some games while he recovers from surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon. Duzey says the timetable for his return is "end of September, beginning of October." Realistically, he's hoping to be back in time for Iowa's Big Ten Conference opener on Oct. 3 at Wisconsin.
"I'd say I'm moving forward faster than we originally thought," said Duzey, who suffered the injury while catching a touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone during 7-on-7 drills. "Just getting strength back and endurance back will be the biggest thing."
The Beathard era
Three practices into fall camp, Ferentz is convinced he made the right move when he replaced Jake Rudock with Beathard as the starting quarterback.
"His demeanor is different, he's a much more mature guy and he's accepted the responsibility," Ferentz said.
Next Man In
Beathard's backup is Tyler Wiegers, a redshirt freshman whose next college snap will be his first.
"Spring ball was huge for me, just for getting those reps," said the 6-4, 222-pound Wiegers. "I feel like I've got more command."
Wiegers knows the role he's in, and the fact that he's one play away from making his debut.
"I'm in an important spot, and it comes with the territory," Wiegers said. "I'm always trying to study, as much as I can, to be ready whenever I'm called upon."
About the punter
There's a good chance that placekicker Marshall Koehn will also punt this season, unless Dillon Kidd finds a hot foot.
Koehn, who made 12-of-16 field goals and was a perfect 39-for-39 in point-after kicks last year in his debut season, said he also punted at Solon High School.
"I kind of know what to do," Koehn said. "It's been awhile since I've done it. It's repeating it, over and over again. I feel like I'm getting back in the groove."
So can Koehn's leg withstand punting, placekicking and kickoff duties?
"I'm trying to watch my reps," Koehn said. "I used to kick a lot of field goals during practice. Now I'm trying to tone it down. Quality over quantity."
The 300-pound question
Iowa will have new offensive tackles in Boone Myers on the left side and Ike Boettger on the right side. They are 300-pound bookends. They're ready to show what they've got. And they know Hawkeye faithful will be watching them closely.
"I'm trying not to think about that," said Boettger, a former quarterback at Cedar Falls High School. "I'm just going to go out there and play."
Bad luck at running back?
Iowa's recent run of bad luck at keeping running backs healthy popped up again. LeShun Daniels, listed as the starter, got injured in the first padded practice of the season Saturday.
Daniels, whose 2014 season ended after seven games because of an ankle injury, suffered an undisclosed injury and wasn't available to reporters at media day. Ferentz said the injury wasn't serious.
Full strength at fullback
Fullback may be a dying position at most schools, but not at Iowa. When Adam Cox was lost for the 2014 season after injuring a knee and Macon Plewa was a shadow of himself because of a shoulder injury, Iowa's offense suffered.
"That affected our team in a fairly-significant way," Ferentz said.
Both are healthy now, and competing for the starting job.
"It's definitely good to be back out there, fully healthy," Cox said.
According to numbers released by Iowa on Saturday, season-ticket sales are down approximately 16 percent from a year ago.
The total number of general public, faculty and staff and comp tickets was at 37,890 at the end of last week, compared to 45,613 a year ago. In addition, student-ticket sales are in the neighborhood of 4,500. A total of 6,440 were sold last season.
"In my 25-year association with this program, our fans have just been absolutely fantastic," Ferentz said. "They deserve a good football team, I'm aware of that. We're working hard to give them what they deserve."
Rick Klatt, Iowa's associate athletic director for external affairs, thinks that fans will respond if the Hawkeyes get off to a fast start.
"I'm an eternal optimist," Klatt said.
Iowa's strength could be in a secondary anchored by cornerback Desmond King and free safety Jordan Lomax. It will be interesting to watch the competition between Miles Taylor and Anthony Gair to replace John Lowdermilk at strong safety. Brandon Snyder is playing behind Lomax now.
"We have experience back there, and it's certainly a positive," Ferentz said.