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After fielding a special teams unit that was miserable at times last season, Kirk Ferentz made that unit a focus during spring practice this season.
"I'll just say this: We can't play special teams next year like we did last year and expect to be playing in a bowl game or having a good year," he said. "It just won't work."
There was really no way to judge if the coverage teams have improved this year because there were no kickoffs or punts, so that will need to be resolved in the fall.
Iowa also needs to find some new return men after losing kickoff returner Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and punt returner Colin Sandeman. Keenan Davis is the obvious choice to replace Johnson-Koulianos after playing beside him last season, but there is no solid replacement behind him.
Punter is also an area of concern after the departure of Ryan Donahue, who was arguably one of the best punters in college football during his career. Eric Guthrie will likely be his replacement after wowing the coaches during the spring.
“Eric Guthrie, from where he was three years ago, it’s unbelievable,” Ferentz said. “He’ll probably be like [James Vandenberg] with some ups and downs early, but he’s shown us he can be a good punter, so we’re excited about him.”