Brown: Ferentz encouraged by progress along Iowa offensive line
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Oh, oh, offensive line.
That was the overwhelming impression those who watched Iowa's open scrimmage Aug. 15 at Kinnick Stadium were left with. Defensive end Drew Ott had made life miserable for Boone Myers, the new left offensive tackle.
Ike Boettger, the right tackle, got schooled a time or two, too. It was not a fluid performance across the line.
"It's not unrealistic to think that any of our younger guys are going to have it hit the fan a little bit," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Monday.
There will be bumps in the road. No question. But Ferentz has a positive view of the big picture.
"There's no question that they're going to be very good players," Ferentz said.
Last week, a practice photo that appeared on the university's athletic website showed Cole Croston playing with the No. 1 offense at left tackle instead of Myers. That revelation took an internet life of its own. Croston in, Myers out.
Fiction, not fact.
Myers, a redshirt sophomore from Webster City, is still No. 1. Ferentz did reveal that Croston, a redshirt junior and son of former Iowa offensive line standout Dave Croston, was getting some snaps at both tackle positions. Boettger, another redsdhirt sophomore, has also worked at both tackle spots. Myers is a left tackle. Period.
Since 2010, starting left tackles Bryan Bulaga, Riley Reiff and Brandon Scherff were all first-round NFL draft picks. Scherff was Iowa's most valuable player last season.
Now those are big shoes to fill.
"He's not replacing Brandon; he's following Brandon," Ferentz said. "To replace Brandon Scherff, one of the best players ever to play at his university, is totally off the radar. What he has to worry about is just being the best he can be. I personally feel that's going to be a pretty good player. I feel the same way about Ike and Cole. I think all three of these guys have really positive futures."
Ferentz said that Myers' steps forward have come more often than his steps back.
"He's won a lot of battles," Ferentz said.
Iowa scrimmaged Friday night, and the coach saw progress across the line.
"We're not ready to play, but at least we're moving in the right direction," Ferentz said.
While Myers, Boettger and Croston look to get the snaps at tackle this season, and Austin Blythe locked in at center, the guard position also has Ferentz optimistic. Sean Welsh, Jordan Walsh and Eric Simmons are in contention to be Blythe's wingmen. Simmons is also the backup center.
The wildcard is true freshman James Daniels, who's a guard with center in his future. Daniels enrolled in January and has a head start on the rest of the rookie class.
"Daniels is clearly doing better than you'd expect a first-year guy," Ferentz said. "He was here in the spring and made the dean's list. That was a pretty good indication that he made the adjustment OK. It didn't seem to overwhelm him. Same thing with football. Not that he doesn't have a lot to learn. But he looks pretty comfortable out there with the first two groups."
Both running backs LeShun Daniels, James' older brother, and Jordan Canzeri continue to pass the eye test. Both had live carries in Friday's scrimmage. And quarterback C.J. Beathard continues to impress. But they'll produce only if the offensive line does the same.
"It's a race against time," Ferentz said.
Sept. 5, and the season opener against Illinois State, is right around the corner.
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.