Iowa Football: Week 3 Spring Practice Stock Report
Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes are entering week three of spring practices. This will be a big one, as it will end with Iowa fans getting their first real glimpse of their team at an open practice to be held in West Des Moines.
In effect, this Sunday fans will have hard, tangible evidence to support their opinions, good and bad, of the team.
At this point, there still isn't much, so all one can do is pick and claw at the scraps that come out.
The following slides will do that, and right now, things look fairly positive.
Is it a sign of some good things to come, or is it the quiet before the storm?
Stock Stagnant: Iowa Running Backs
At the beginning of spring practice, Hawkeyes fans knew that Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock were co-starting tailbacks with Jordan Canzeri in the No. 2 spot.
They also knew that redshirt freshmen Barkley Hill and Michael Malloy would fight for carries.
Meanwhile, the fullback seemed to be on the downswing, though that is still in limbo.
Now, three weeks into practice, and nothing has changed.
However, given Iowa's luck with running backs getting injured, getting in trouble, transferring—basically falling to the wrath of AIRBHG—stagnant is good.
Stock Up: The Receivers
The Hawkeyes wide receivers' stock hit rock bottom following last year's Iowa State contest, in which Iowa pass catchers dropped eight passes, according to the unofficial count of the Daily Iowan's Tork Mason.
Unfortunately, said stock improved minimally as 2012 went on. Iowa receivers caught only two passes against Michigan, the second-to-last contest of the season. The majority of the team's 19 receptions in that game went to running backs and tight ends.
Due to this, as new Hawkeyes receivers coach Bobby Kennedy recently said (via Andrew Logue of HawkCentral.com), "They’re probably a little embarrassed about last year."
Ultimately, the receivers' stock was pretty low, so anything is an improvement. However, Kennedy's strong and candid words leaves one to believe he has the position group pointed in the right direction.
Stock Up: Brandon Scherff
Brandon Scherff began 2012 as the starting left tackle, but a broken leg early in the Penn State game ended his season prematurely.
The Hawkeyes rushed for 928 yards, 4.48 yards per carry (YPC) and 10 touchdowns with Scherff at left tackle. Without Scherff, they put up 548 yards, 2.78 YPC and five rushing touchdowns.
They also lost six straight.
There were extenuating circumstances, including the loss of fellow lineman Andrew Donnal as well as a barrage of injuries to the running backs.
However, Scherff's absence played a large part in the fall off.
This spring, as Hawkeyesports.com documented, Scherff is back. If he continues to play as well as last season, he has a realistic chance of ending the year on the all-conference list.
Stock Up: The Interior of the Defensive Line
Last year's Iowa rush defense allowed 4.11 YPC. That was the worst Iowa rush defense since 2000—Kirk Ferentz's second year as the head coach—when the Hawks allowed 4.47 YPC.
Much of the reason for such a poor showing was because the line, especially the interior of the line, was undersized, inexperienced and lacking in talent.
This year, the interior of the line has the potential to be a strength.
Junior Louis Trinca-Pasat was arguably the team's best lineman early in the year, though he did wane down the stretch. He will miss spring practices as he recovers from a recent surgery.
Sophomore Darian Cooper is the team's hottest ticket, having been tabbed by ESPN's Adam Rittenberg as the Hawkeyes' most likely spring breakout player.
In a HawkCentral.com article by Andrew Logue, senior linebacker James Morris specifically pointed out junior Carl Davis as having made considerable strides this spring. Moreover, Davis himself seems to be taking on a leadership role.
Throw in highly touted redshirt freshmen Faith Ekakitie and Jaleel Johnson, and the pieces are there for the Hawkeyes to regain control of the interior of the line, as has been the trademark for all of Ferentz's best defenses.
Stock Down: Cody Sokol
The spring began with a three-man race at quarterback, but redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard's stock went up in week one.
Then, sophomore Jake Rudock's stock went up in week two.
But what of the third man, JUCO-transfer Cody Sokol?
This week his stock goes down, as all signs point to the competition having slimmed to a two-man race between Rudock and Beathard.
Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported Rudock and Beathard sharing first-team snaps at the team's fifth practice, though he did note, "Sokol also is very much in it."
HawkCentral.com published videos of both Rudock and Beathard taking snaps, but Sokol was nowhere to be found.
Hawkeyesports.com published a photo gallery following practice No. 6. There are plenty of pictures of Rudock and Beathard, but no signs of Sokol.
At this point, it's impossible to count anybody out, but it does appear that Sokol has fallen behind the other two.
Stock Up: C.J. Beathard
The impressive thing about Beathard is that he is a redshirt freshman. Therefore, these are his first spring practices.
Last year, as a true freshman, he quarterbacked the scout team, which means he spent most of his time running another team's plays.
Because the Hawks went 4-8, he had no bowl practices to polish his game.
Nonetheless, he seems to have passed an older quarterback—Sokol—who participated in 2012 spring practices and played at the JUCO level. He has also pulled alongside another quarterback—Rudock—who participated in 2011 bowl practices, 2012 spring practices and who took all the No. 2 snaps last year.
Officially, the quarterback race may be even, but Beathard appears to be on the rise with a bullet.