Iowa football

Hawkeyes working to fill offensive line holes this spring

2014-03-30T20:00:00Z 2014-03-31T16:55:06Z Hawkeyes working to fill offensive line holes this springSteve Batterson sbatterson@qctimes.com The Quad-City Times

IOWA CITY – Less visible but every bit as significant as the competition taking place for starting jobs at linebacker or the shifting roles in the secondary, Iowa has openings on the offensive line and at tight end to fill this spring.

After an injury-filled 2012 season, the starting front five on the Hawkeye offensive line remained intact from the start to finish of Iowa’s 8-5 season last fall.

Right tackle Brett Van Sloten and left guard Conor Boffeli completed their eligibility in the Outback Bowl, but Iowa will build its offensive front around the experience provided by four returning players.

Brandon Scherff, who shared team most valuable player honors last season and bypassed an early exit for the NFL, anchors the left side of the line from the tackle spot and joins two juniors, center Austin Blythe and right guard Jordan Walsh, as returning starters.

Senior Andrew Donnal, who started three games in 2012 and saw extensive action in a reserve role last season, begins spring drills topping the depth chart at right tackle.

Coach Kirk Ferentz said the experience provided by that group provides Iowa’s offensive front with a starting point in 2014.

Sean Welsh, a 6-foot-3, 285-pound redshirt freshman from Springboro, Ohio, opened spring practices last week at the top of the depth chart at left guard, but Ferentz said competition there remains somewhat fluid.

“Sean picked things up quickly and did a lot of good things. He’s in contention there, but he’s behind the other four guys. Those guys have played, so that job (at left guard) is really wide open, not that the other ones aren’t,’’ Ferentz said.

“Sean certainly is a guy who impressed us, but a lot of guys will be in there competing. Eric Simmons will be in there, other guys, and we’ll change some guys around and see what they can do.’’

Iowa’s initial depth on the offensive line includes sophomores Ryan Ward and Cole Croston, redshirt freshman Boone Myers and senior Tommy Gaul in addition to Simmons, a junior who transferred a year ago from Iowa Western Community College.

The situation is a little different at tight end, where the Hawkeyes have no shortage of depth as they look to replace C.J. Fiedorowicz.

Senior Ray Hamilton, who started the one game that Fiedorowicz did not last season, begins spring practices the top of a two-deep roster which lists junior Jake Duzey as the backup.

George Kittle and Henry Krieger Coble return experience at the position and Ferentz is intrigued by what he has seen from 6-5, 235-pound redshirt freshman Jon Wisnieski of West Des Moines Dowling, saying that he “fits right in’’ with the returning group.

“It’s going to be fun to see what they can do,’’ Ferentz said. “We won’t have C.J. and he was an outstanding player, but we’ll have enough guys in that group. Somebody has to make those catches in the red zone and some of those things that C.J. did well, too.’’

Copyright 2015 The Quad-City Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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2015 Hawkeyes (0-0)

Date Opponent Time/result
9/5/2015 Illinois State 11 a.m.
9/12/2015 at Iowa State 3:30 p.m.
9/19/2015 Pittsburgh 7 p.m.
9/26/2015 North Texas TBA
10/3/2015 at Wisconsin TBA
10/10/2015 Illinois 11 a.m.
10/17/2015 at Northwestern 11 a.m.
10/31/2015 Maryland TBA
11/7/2015 at Indiana TBA
11/14/2015 Minnesota 7 p.m.
11/21/2015 Purdue TBA
11/27/2015 at Nebraska TBA

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2014 Hawkeyes (7-6)

Date Opponent Time/result
8/30/2014 Northern Iowa W 31-23
9/6/2014 Ball State W 17-13
9/13/2014 Iowa State L 20-17
9/20/2014 at Pittsburgh W 24-20
9/27/2014 at Purdue W 24-10
10/11/2014 Indiana W 45-29
10/18/2014 at Maryland L 38-31
11/1/2014 Northwestern W 48-7
11/8/2014 at Minnesota L 51-14
11/15/2014 at Illinois W 30-14
11/22/2014 Wisconsin  L 26-24
11/28/2014 Nebraska L 37-34
1/2/2015 Tennessee L 45-28

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Hawkeyes bowl history

1957 Rose   Oregon State W 35-19
1959 Rose   California W 38-12
1982 Rose   Washington L 28-0
1982 Peach   Tennessee W 28-22
1983 Gator   Florida L 14-6
1984 Freedom   Texas W 55-17
1986 Rose   UCLA L 45-28
1986 Holiday   SDSU W 39-38
1987 Holiday   Wyoming W 20-19
1988 Peach   NC State L 28-23
1991 Rose   Washington L 46-34
1991 Holiday   BYU T 13-13
1993 Alamo   California L 37-3
1995 Sun   Washington W 38-18
1996 Alamo   Texas Tech W 27-0
1997 Sun   Arizona State L 17-7
2001 Alamo   Texas Tech W 19-16
2003 Orange   USC L 38-17
2004 Outback   Florida W 37-17
2005 Capital One LSU W 30-25
2006 Outback   Florida L 31-24
2006 Alamo   Texas L 26-24
2009 Outback   South Carolina W 31-10
2010 Orange   Georgia Tech W 24-14
2010 Insight   Missouri W 27-24
2011 Insight   Oklahoma L 31-14
2014 Outback   LSU L 21-14
2015 TaxSlayer   Tennessee L 45-28