IOWA CITY — LeVar Woods doesn’t sit up a night, scribbling the latest special-teams gimmick for the Iowa football team on a scrap of paper.
Now two years into his sole role as the Hawkeyes’ special teams coordinator, Woods is always on the lookout for something that potentially could provide Iowa with an edge, but he’s more concerned with creating consistent performances whenever special teams are on the field.
"Tough, smart, physical and together, that’s what we want from all of our special teams," Woods said Friday. "That’s what we are always about."
And before the Hawkeyes even think about executing another "polecat" or some other sort of successful fake, they need to get the basics down.
That’s where Woods and Iowa are at just beyond the midpoint of spring practices.
The Hawkeyes are looking for a starting kicker, searching for consistency out of the punting position and seeking a punt returner to complement the kick-returning abilities of Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
"We have a lot to keep us busy right now," Woods said.
The search for a starting kicker is ongoing.
Keith Duncan, who kicked a 33-yard game-winner against third-ranked Michigan in 2016 but watched Miguel Recinos work the past two seasons, and Caleb Shudak are working this spring and a freshman walk-on, Lucas Amaya, will join the mix in fall camp.
"There has been good competition here every year since I’ve been here, and that hasn’t changed now," Duncan said earlier this spring. "It comes down to doing the job and doing it consistently."
Woods likes what he has seen from both Duncan and Shudak, calling them both "very competitive people."
He also said is possible that more than one kicker could handle various responsibilities for the Hawkeyes in the fall and that ultimately consistency will determine who earns the starting role.
Iowa is searching for consistency from its punters as well.
Senior Colten Rastetter, who averaged 38.9 yards last fall, and sophomore Ryan Gersonde, return and graduate transfer Michael Sleep-Dalton will join the program this summer.
Sleep-Dalton averaged 43.8 yards per punt last season at Arizona State, fourth among punters in the Pac-12.
"I think both (Rastetter and Gersonde) are in a different place than they were last season," Woods said, expecting the added competition from Sleep-Dalton to only push both to a higher level.
He said Sleep-Dalton offers a strong leg and the ability to punt with both legs in either direction.
"He can rollout punt. He can spiral punt. He has a bunch of different shots in the bag," Woods said. "But, the job is wide open, and all three are required to know that."
Smith-Marsette, second nationally with an average of 29.5 yards on kick returns a year ago, owns that position, but Woods is getting a look at a multitude of possibilities as a punt returner.
Smith-Marsette is part of that group, but it also includes Nico Ragaini, Geno Stone, Devonte Young and Terry Roberts.
Woods is also looking for other players to emerge as leaders on special teams, players who "are willing to take pride in it and are willing to help us create an edge. A lot of the guys on the (Iowa football complex all-American) wall got their start with what they did on special teams."
He points to Young and Amani Jones as potential leaders of the group.
"This is when we try to identify for those core contributors, guys who will help bring it all together," Woods said. "This is an important time of year for that."
When that’s accomplished, he’ll start to contemplate the next "polecat"-style possibility.