IOWA CITY — There is one less candidate in the ongoing chase for Iowa’s starting quarterback position, but as Drew Cook settles into a new role as a tight end, the new-look Hawkeye offense remains a work in progress.
With only two practices remaining this spring, including Friday’s 7 p.m. spring game at Kinnick Stadium, first-year offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz is good with that.
“We’ve gotten in what we need to evaluate guys and to find out what we’re good at,’’ Ferentz said Wednesday.
He said the emphasis remains on building an understanding of a new scheme first introduced to players about a month ago and encouraging growth through competition.
Ultimately, that will create Iowa’s season-opening depth chart.
“We’re not married to anyone. We’re going to do what’s best for Iowa football and what’s best for Iowa football is great competition,’’ Ferentz said.
That’s what he sees developing at multiple positions, including at quarterback.
Sophomore Nathan Stanley and junior Tyler Wiegers continue to battle for the chance to replace C.J. Beathard, with Ryan Boyle still in the mix on the next tier after Cook shifted to tight end four practices ago.
Ferentz does not expect a starting quarterback to be determined until fall camp although he said both Stanley and Wiegers have made progress through the first 13 spring practices.
“They’re competitive guys. It’s pretty even and it’s been well documented that no one has really separated. I think that’s good,’’ Ferentz said. “Again, it goes back to there are no incumbents. Nobody is owed anything or deserves this or is entitled to that.’’
That’s one reason he has no problem letting the two compete into preseason camp.
“At some point we’re going to need to make a decision and some separation would help, but right now I’m encouraged because they’re both pushing forward,’’ Ferentz said. “It’s a matter of both doing a nice job.’’
Head coach Kirk Ferentz said picking a starter at this point would basically be “throwing darts at a board.’’
He also announced the position change for Cook, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound sophomore who made the move last week.
Kirk Ferentz said he has been pleased with Cook’s progress at quarterback, but said there were too many other younger candidates in the mix to realistically provide him with an opportunity there.
“I think he can help our football team win sooner at tight end than at quarterback, so it was a decision that we kind of came to as a staff,’’ Kirk Ferentz said. “He was excited about it and is engaged in it. He has a tremendous upside and a great attitude about it.’’
The son of former Hawkeye all-American tight end Marv Cook fits into the mix of tight ends currently angling to replace George Kittle in the Iowa lineup.
“When you talk about moving positions, he’s not a guy you worry about,’’ Brian Ferentz said. “He’s a guy that you know will jump in and do the best he can. He has the physical attributes and has a real chance to be successful there.’’
As deep as Iowa is at tight end, it is equally thin at receiver where Adrian Falconer and Devonte Young will be the only scholarship players in uniform Friday. Matt VandeBerg continues to rehab a foot injury and Jerminic Smith sits because of academic issues.
Their absence has provided others, including walk-on junior college transfer Nick Easley, with an opportunity.
“I’m just looking to find a way to help the team, whether that’s on special teams or offense, whatever I can do,’’ said Easley, who competed last fall at Iowa Western Community College. “That’s my whole focus, finding a way to help the team.’’
Brian Ferentz indicated that role may include catching passes.
“Nick Easley has done a nice job. He’s not on scholarship, but he’ll play,’’ Ferentz said. “He’ll play more than maybe he anticipated because we are looking for the guys who can go out there and do things the way we want them done.’’
That’s where summer evaluation by Hawkeye coaches begins.
“What this spring has been about is finding out who are the guys we want to create matchups with,’’ he said. “I think we have a better idea of that, but I don’t think it’s totally going to play out until (fall) camp.’’