IOWA CITY — Quarterback isn’t the only question Iowa has as it begins spring football practices Wednesday.
The Hawkeyes are looking for solutions at receiver, cornerback and defensive tackle, areas where open lineup spots should create competition as Iowa works toward its April 21 spring game and ultimately, the 2017 season.
“If you look at our perimeter in particular, we’re young at those positions now, and very inexperienced. That’s a starting point for us,’’ coach Kirk Ferentz said Monday.
Three new assistants on the offensive staff are also creating a blank canvas in many respects for the Hawkeyes.
“I think the biggest thing for us as a staff is to go into it with an open mind, let our players compete, let them do what they’re going to do over the next 15 practices,’’ Ferentz said.
“Then, we can judge the guys based on what they do out there on the field. Things constantly change. Players change. How they perform changes. It’s our job to keep a fresh eye and evaluate what we see and go from there.’’
That includes at quarterback, where junior Tyler Wiegers and sophomore Nathan Stanley return limited experience as a backup to C.J. Beathard.
Untested sophomore Drew Cook is also on the depth chart as spring drills begin and everything will be under the microscope.
“It starts with the huddle, right up through taking the snap. It will be about calling the play in the huddle, then taking the snap and making good decisions after that point,’’ Ferentz said. “We realize all the guys are inexperienced. None of them have been in a game very much. … We’ll let them go and see how they perform.’’
The Hawkeyes’ top returning receiver, Matt VandeBerg, will miss spring practices as he recovers from a foot injury unrelated to the one which sidelined him for the majority of the 2016 season.
VandeBerg was on the field for practices prior to Iowa’s bowl game and participated in winter conditioning before suffering the injury.
“It’s just one of those things that happens occasionally. There’s not much we can do about it,’’ Ferentz said, adding that VandeBerg is expected back on the field by June.
The situation will provide additional work for Jerminic Smith, Devonte Young, Adrian Falconer and Iowa Western Community College transfer Nick Easley, who is listed on the spring depth chart at the position.
“Historically in our program, when our team does well we have guys in the second, third, fourth years that are really starting show they can go out and play in the Big Ten. That’s what we’re hoping to see from Jerminic, Adrian, those guys taking those kinds of steps as they start their third year.’’
Easley, a Newton native who arrived at Iowa as a preferred walk-on, has impressed coaches with his work ethic since arriving on campus in January.
“Who knows what he’s going to do? He has a chance to go in there and compete, especially with Matt being out. It’s wide open for everybody to have a chance.’’
That is the message Ferentz wants his players to understand before Wednesday morning’s first practice.
“The big thing for our players to understand is everybody has an equal chance to create playing time for themselves,’’ Ferentz said. “Basically, it boils down to the hard work they put into it, the commitment they demonstrate.’’