Iowa football: What we learned from Kirk Ferentz's news conference at Hawkeyes media day

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — For as cemented as Iowa's offensive line is at tackle and center, much is unknown at both guard positions.

At Friday's media day, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz described the guard battles as "wide open." 

Landan Paulsen and Cole Banwart were listed as the starters on the July depth chart release, but things could certainly change as fall camp progresses. Levi Paulsen, Cody Ince and others will push the competition to grab the two spots surrounding Tristan Wirfs, Alaric Jackson and Tyler Linderbaum. 

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz talks with reporters during Hawkeyes football media day, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019, at the Feller Club Room in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Here are some more quick takeaways from Ferentz's media day presser.   

Injury in the punting game

With questions abundant in the kicking and punting game, the Hawkeyes are already dealing with an injury there. 

Ferentz announced that sophomore punter Ryan Gersonde is out for the year after undergoing knee surgery. Gersonde was expected to be part of a three-way battle with Colten Rastetter and Arizona State transfer Michael Sleep-Dalton. 

As for the battle, Ferentz didn't offer much of an update. Rastetter won the job last season but delivered subpar results, averaging just 38.9 yards per boot. Sleep-Dalton averaged 43.8 yards per punt for the Sun Devils in 2018.   

'Lot faster pace'

While Iowa has dealt with wide receiver issues in the past, much excitement exists with the 2019 unit. Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette are the more established weapons, but the hype is high for redshirt freshmen Tyrone Tracy and Nico Ragaini.

"Lot faster pace," Ferentz said of those two.

Tracy and Ragaini took advantage of the new redshirt rule in 2018, combining for 29 yards on two catches without losing an eligibility season. Opportunity is there for both to take sizable jumps as redshirt sophomores.    

Next challenge

Despite his intimidating presence, some forget AJ Epenesa hasn't started a game yet. He may have been the best rotational player in the country. He'll get his shot at a full workload this season. 

"Now the challenge is to play 60,70 snaps and play them as well as he can," Ferentz said.  

Kirk on sports gambling in Iowa 

Although sports gambling will go legal in Iowa later this month, Ferentz doesn't anticipate the change altering much. After all, the same education and rules remain in place. 

"A bad deal," Ferentz said in terms of college athletics personnel getting involved with sports gambling.   

"The lines of demarcation are pretty clear," Ferentz added. 

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.