Ferentz saw expected struggles
IOWA CITY — Only 15 practices into work with a new offense, Kirk Ferentz wasn’t surprised with Iowa football team’s struggles to move the ball Friday during the Hawkeyes’ spring game.
He didn’t even mind the three interceptions thrown by Hawkeye quarterbacks.
“We’ve never looked very pretty in the spring. To me, that’s just part of spring practices. If we look the same on August 30th, then I’ll be a little concerned,’’ Ferentz said following Iowa’s first-ever spring finale played under the lights at Kinnick Stadium.
Things were a little patched together before the first snap.
Senior running back Akrum Wadley did practice fielding punts this spring, but he didn’t get tackled once.
Receiver Matt VandeBerg continues to work his way back from a foot injury and a second starter at the position, Jerminic Smith, is working to get his academic priorities back up to team standards.
Couple all of that, including the need to find a starting quarterback and the adjustment to new terminology and Ferentz had no expectations of a well-oiled machine.
“It’s a combination of a lot of things, but I do feel like we’ve made some progress,’’ he said. “The key will be to build on that into the summer and once the guys get back here in August for fall camp.’’
Ferentz said the absences did provide the Hawkeyes with a chance to build some depth.
“That’s always been important for us at this time of year and I feel like we accomplished that,’’ he said.
ANOTHER OPTION: Five tight ends — Noah Fant, Jon Wisnieski, T.J. Hockenson Shaun Beyer and Drew Cook — were among Hawkeyes who caught passes Friday.
Iowa ran several multiple tight end sets and Fant said that look is among changes in an evolving Hawkeye game plan.
“We have the guys to do it, guys who can make plays,’’ Fant said. “Putting the tight ends to use is part of what we hope to do this year.’’
GOLD STANDARD: Rewarded for interceptions, stops and three and outs, the Iowa defense dubbed the Gold team “won’’ the spring game on the scoreboard 63-47.
“We have a decent amount of experience on our side of the ball and we’ve had a good spring as a group,’’ free safety Jake Gervase said. “We’re making progress.’’
RETURNS: Wadley welcomes the chance to return punts and kicks if needed and Ferentz said Iowa may well give its senior running back that chance.
“We’ll do what we need to do to get our best guys on the field,’’ Ferentz said.
Wadley said he returned both kicks and punts in high school and doesn’t mind the chance to follow Desmond King into helping Iowa in that area as a senior.
“I’m ready,’’ he said. “I’m ready. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve worked on it all spring.’’
RUNNING HARD: Toren Young demonstrated his abilities as a physical runner in gaining 90 yards on 17 carries, an effort that impressed Ferentz.
“He showed a lot of energy and toughness and he’s been doing that all spring when we’ve been out in pads,’’ Ferentz said. “In shorts, not so much, but I don’t think we’re going to need to play many games in shorts.’’
Ferentz said both Young and Toks Akinribade have shown growth as backup options to Wadley.
“We’ve gained ground there,’’ he said.
UPS AND DOWNS: The inconsistent play at quarterback on Friday has been the norm this spring for Iowa as Tyler Wiegers and Nathan Stanley compete for the starting job.
“Both guys have gone back and forth, had good days and bad,’’ Ferentz said. “We’re looking for that consistency. They’re both better players now than they were a year ago, but we’re looking for somebody to take that next step when they get back here in August.’’