Iowa Football: Winners and Losers from the Hawkeyes Spring Game
Iowa has concluded its open spring practice, though it still has three practices left to go before we close the books on spring 2012.
Both the offense and defense have a ways to go, if the open practice was any indication.
There was a lot of good,—the no-huddle looked smooth and crisp, the defensive back seven looked solid and JVB was in charge of the team—but there was a good amount of bad.
Nevertheless, these things have to be expected. Spring practice is a learning experience, and the best way to learn is to make mistakes.
Here are some of the winners and losers as we close the books on this spring "game."
Winner: Nico Law, SS (Sophomore)
The true sophomore out of Maryland likes hitting. This was something that was expected out of him when he came to Iowa, and it appears he is ready to deliver.
In 2011, Law had the most tackles (11) of any Hawkeye who didn't start at least one game.
This season, he is poised to be the starting strong safety, and he brought his A-game for the spring game. Law had the the three biggest hits on the afternoon, including one in which he detached Damon Bullock and his helmet.
One can imagine what kind of intensity he brings on game day if that's what he brings in practice.
I don't want to get ahead of myself, but is Nico Law Sanders 2.0?
One can only hope; the Hawks have been missing a consistent physical defensive presence since Pat Angerer graduated in 2009.
Winner: Jake Rudock, QB (RS Freshman)
Rudock firmly established himself as the clear No. 2.
He didn't have a great day in the truest sense of the word, but he did the things you like to see out of a young quarterback. Rudock stood in the pocket, didn't force throws and went through his receivers as opposed to automatically going to his first option.
Don't get me wrong—Rudock still has a long way to go, but he flashed those elements you just can't teach. And, between him and Sokol, I'd take Rudock.
Winner and Loser: Don Shumpert, WR (Junior)
Shumpert did plenty well, including four receptions by my count—which, also by my count, tied with C.J. Fiedorowicz for the most catches on the day—and catching the longest pass play of the day.
However, Shumpert negated that with a fumble and a movement penalty, both of which are the kinds of things that make Kirk Ferentz scribble furiously on his piece of notebook paper.
Iowa is pretty much set for its Nos. 1 and 2 receivers in 2012, but the No. 3 is wide open, and one would think—given the amount of playing time he received—that Shumpert is in the thick of things.
He will have to play more consistently in order to cement his spot, though.
Loser: De'Andre Johnson, RB (Sophomore)
At the 2:05 mark of the spring scrimmage, I noted, "I really like De'Andre Johnson. He reminds me of Freddy Russell. Small, but tree trunk legs, runs low to the ground, gets yards. I don't know why he can't climb up that depth chart."
He fumbled the ball a few plays later.
A few plays after that, he fumbled an exchange with backup quarterback Cody Sokol. It was hard to tell who was to blame for that fumble, but it is notable that Johnson was involved in two of the three fumbles on the day.
Perhaps the fumbles explain why he "can't climb up that depth chart," no matter who gets injured.
Winner: Joe Gaglione, DE (Senior)
Overall, the line play on both sides of the ball was mediocre.
Not much was expected of the defensive line; those issues and potential struggles have been well-documented.
More was expected of the O-line, but one has to remember that it graduated three starters, including one player who will likely go in the first round of the NFL draft.
That said, neither unit particularly distinguished itself, though senior strong-side end Joe Gaglione did have a good day. He maintained leverage, won his battles against junior right tackle Brett Van Sloten (for the most part) and generated a fair amount of pressure.
Of course, Gaglione won't be able to do the job alone, but it was nice to see some noise out of the line.