IOWA CITY — In seven practices under new offensive line coach Tim Polasek, players on a veteran Iowa offensive front have learned one thing about their new position coach.
He likes to pick up the pace.
“I get on edge a little bit when I see too many guys standing around, so we’re going to go fast,’’ Polasek said Wednesday. “We want to have a great deal of energy.’’
He talks about the need for a sense of urgency and what he describes as a can’t-wait mentality.
“It’s real simple with me,’’ Polasek said. “Compete and improve, passion, enthusiasm, have some energy and some urgency with it and then be aware that your teammates matter.’’
Polasek sees a lot of that within one of the most experienced position groups on the Hawkeye team.
Iowa returns four starters from last season’s Outback Bowl team and has seven players on the roster who have made at least one start for the Hawkeyes.
“They all go about their business pretty good,’’ he said. “The emphasis right now is just trying to develop as much depth in competition as we can to try to solidify who is number seven, who is number six, number eight, that has kind of been our main focus.’’
Polasek, who joined Iowa this year after working the past five seasons as the offensive coordinator and running backs coach at North Dakota State, views developing that depth behind a group which includes returning senior starters Ike Boettger, Boone Myers and Sean Welsh as critical.
“We have to have some young guys step up and establish themselves in a position where they can get into a competitive situation with one or two guys,’’ Polasek said.
Two redshirt freshmen, Alaric Jackson at left tackle and Cole Banwart at center, opened spring practices in reserve roles on the offensive line depth chart.
Those players are among those in competition for those sixth through eighth spots on an Iowa offensive line which will continue to rely on flexibility, beginning with playing its best five players regardless of position and substituting after that based on overall consistency of play.
“You’d love to have 10 guys and say the left tackle is backed up by player B and the left guard by player C,’’ Polasek said. “But, the truth of the matter is we have to have our five best out there at all times, whatever five are available.’’
Polasek likes the potential he sees in some of Iowa’s younger linemen — he mentioned that Jackson is “an Iowa guy from a toughness standpoint’’ — but said most remain a work in progress.
“We’re not in a position to throw a bunch of names out there right there now,’’ Polasek said. “We’re in the middle of this. There’s several guys, probably five or six guys fighting for that number six, seven spot.’’