Kids at Kinnick Day

Iowa football players sign autographs for young fans at Kinnick Stadium following Saturday’s Kids at Kinnick Day practice and scrimmage. (Steve Batterson / Quad-City Times)

IOWA CITY - Before signing a handful of autographs Saturday at the Iowa football program's annual Kids at Kinnick workout, Hawkeyes quarterback James Vandenberg said he and his teammates didn't exactly turn in a signature performance.

"We have a lot of work to do," Vandenberg said. "This was a good evaluation day for us, but I know it will show us that we have a long way to go over the next couple of weeks."

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz didn't disagree with Vandenberg's assessment.

He said Saturday's 2-hour practice was somewhat typical of what he has seen from a young Hawkeye team during its first week of fall camp.

"The task for all of our young guys is to develop a consistent approach," Ferentz said.

Ferentz used the performance of Iowa's three kickers as an example.

"At times, you see potential that is there, but we also showed inconsistency," Ferentz said. "It's been that way so far in most areas on our football team. We're still at a point where we are trying to evaluate things and figure out our best one, two, three guys at every position."

The Hawkeyes took the turf at Kinnick Stadium for a little more than 2 hours Saturday, following individual drills with 7-on-7 play before holding their first controlled scrimmage of the preseason.

Vandenberg completed 15-of-24 passes for 158 yards, splitting snaps with John Wienke, A.J. Derby and freshman Jake Rudock.

Wienke, who also worked out as Iowa's second-team punter, completed 4-of-10 passes for 32 yards. Derby went 9-of-14 for 90 yards, but was intercepted twice. Rudock went 5-of-9 for 84 yards.

"James has done a nice job for the most part, but it's still a toss up beyond that," Ferentz said. "We hope to get some clarity there over the next two weeks and narrow that down a bit."

A handful of players did not participate because of what Ferentz labeled "minor" injuries. The group included starting running back Marcus Coker and linebacker James Morris.

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Their absence provided opportunities for coaches to get a longer look at younger personnel.

Backup running back Jason White, a junior from Davenport North, demonstrated pass-catching abilities that have helped him climb the depth chart, and two true freshmen, Mika'il McCall and Jordan Canzeri, both ran well. Redshirt freshman De'Andre Johnson left the scrimmage with an injury.

"All of our backs ran well," Vandenberg said. "White's ability to catch the football adds something to our offense, and the freshmen run hard. McCall is a real physical guy who coming out of high school is learning what our offense is about."

Canzeri displayed quick-cutting ability to the hole as well, and while Ferentz's decision on which true freshmen will play this season won't be made until later in camp, he said it remains possible that two of Iowa's rookie backs will see the field this fall.

Senior receiver Marvin McNutt had a 45-yard reception among his two catches on a day when Iowa quarterbacks spread the ball around the field.

Former Cedar Rapids Washington prep Keenan Davis drew one of the largest cheers of the day from the crowd of around 8,000 with a diving catch early in the scrimmage and redshirt freshman Kevonte Martin-Manley and sophomore Don Shumpert both enjoyed solid outings.

"All of our receivers have made some plays," Vandenberg said. "They've been a good group to work with, but we still have work to do. When we sit down and look at tape (Sunday), it's going to show us all that we have a lot to clean up. That's just where we are right now."

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