Iowa football's Sam LaPorta takes QB snaps again; Xavier Nwankpa works with first team

Kennington Lloyd Smith III
Des Moines Register

The Iowa football team's Music City Bowl preparation continued on Wednesday morning when the Hawkeyes held their third practice of the week. Iowa will take Thursday off and return to the practice field on Friday ahead of Saturday's game against Kentucky (11 a.m. on ABC).

For the second consecutive day, members of the media were allowed to observe practice during an open viewing period. The early practice periods included work on offense, defense and special teams. Here are seven observations form Wednesday's practice:

Iowa defensive back Xavier Nwankpa, left, breaks up a pass intended for running back Kaleb Johnson during the Kids Day at Kinnick practice Aug. 13 in Iowa City.

Wednesday brought good news for Iowa's offense when sophomore wide receiver Brody Brecht returned to practice after missing Tuesday's session. Senior Nico Ragaini and sophomore Diante Vines were first-team receivers during Wednesday's session but Brecht (if healthy enough) should see a heavy snap count on Saturday. Redshirt freshman Alec Wick also got a few first-team reps on Wednesday.

Elsewhere on offense, the Hawkeyes practiced read-option plays against the scout-team defense. Once again, senior tight end Sam LaPorta took snaps at quarterback behind Joe Labas and Carson May.

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Iowa's running backs worked extensively on pass-catching during position drills.

The Hawkeye defensive line worked throughout the session on creating separation. Defensive line coach Kelvin Bell had players working through the "escape" technique in different variations. While working against the scout-team offense, the defensive line worked through stunt plays. Senior defensive end John Waggoner received praise from coaches for good reps during this session.

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Perhaps the biggest note on defense was that freshman Xavier Nwankpa was working at first-team safety against the scout offense in both the base 4-2-5 look and in the 4-3 look. Junior Sebastian Castro was working at first-team "Cash" in the 4-2-5 look. When the defense week to 4-3, the three linebackers were seniors Seth Benson and Jack Campbell and junior Jay Higgins.