IOWA CITY — For Iowa offensive linemen, everything old is new again.
Seniors Sean Welsh and Boone Myers said offseason coaching changes have led to learning opportunities for both young players and veterans in the Hawkeye offense’s front five.
“A lot of things have changed and that’s something we’re all working through,’’ Welsh said Wednesday. “We’re going to be fine. But, we all find ourselves with a lot of work to do.’’
With Brian Ferentz shifting to the offensive coordinator’s role and former North Dakota State offensive coordinator Tim Polasek on staff as Iowa’s first-year offensive line coach, this spring has become a time of transition for the Hawkeyes.
Myers, topping the depth chart at left tackle after splitting time between tackle and guard last season, said Polasek has meshed quickly with the players he is coaching.
“He’s our main guy right now. He’s doing a really good job with us right now. He’s very passionate, loves the game, and he loves coaching. That’s good for us. That’s what you want,’’ Myers said. “You want to play for somebody who loves the game, loves working with his guys.’’
Not unlike Ferentz, that passion shows in Polasek's style as he works with his position players. Welsh describes Polasek’s approach as “high energy.’’
The expectations have not changed either for a line which returns four starters and includes seven players with at least one career start on their resume.
“He is improvement driven,’’ Welsh said. “He’s similar in a lot of ways to (strength and conditioning coordinator Chris) Doyle in that he’s all about improving.’’
All of the Hawkeyes, from veterans to players working through their first spring drills, are adjusting to new terminology.
Welsh considers that to be among the biggest challenges the entire group faces this spring.
“That might even be easier for the younger guys than for some of us who have been around. I’ve been around for five years now and I’ve been fortunate to have had the same position coach up to this point. I know it doesn’t work that way everywhere,’’ said Welsh, the returning starter at right guard.
“For the older guys who are settled in, there is a new language to learn this season. The young guys, they’ve just been around it for a year. It’s exciting, though. We’re all in it together.’’
That includes Polasek.
“He came in and laid it on the line and said, ‘I love football. I love the game and I’m excited to do this and teach offensive linemen.’ He’s never coached the offensive line before,’’ Myers said. “He said it was going to be a challenge for him, a challenge for us and the challenge for all of us is to pull it all together.’’
Four practices into the 15 workouts Iowa is allowed in the spring, linebackers coach Seth Wallace said Polasek’s players and the Hawkeye offense are presenting the Iowa defense with challenges as well.
He said the multitude of offensive staff changes have led to emerging philosophical changes on offense.
“Defensively, it has probably made us think at a faster rate,’’ Wallace said. “We’ve typically been able to put our toes in the water before we jumped right in when it came to spring practice. This year, we had water up to our waist on the first day.’’
Wallace doesn’t mind that.
“I think it has been good for all of our guys because we’ve had to adjust,’’ Wallace said. “We’re getting something out of this, too.’’