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Football opens spring practice

BY SCOTT MILLER | MARCH 25, 2010 7:30 AM

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The first-floor hallway of the Hayden Fry Football Complex features a Ben Krause quotation: “Don’t bother looking back because we’re not going there.”

A floor below, in the spring practice press conference, head coach Kirk Ferentz reinforced the importance of moving on from the Hawkeyes’ historic 2009 season.

An 11-2 record, several notable individual accomplishments, and the school’s first BCS victory neither affect nor predict Iowa’s 2010 slate, Ferentz said. On Wednesday, the Hawkeyes began spring practice — the team’s first step toward starting anew.

“All of us were pleased with the way things turned out last year,” said Ferentz, who’s entering his 12th year as head coach. “But this begins a whole new chapter for us.”

It’s a chapter that won’t include the likes of linebackers Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds, or tight end Tony Moeaki, or offensive tackles Bryan Bulaga and Kyle Calloway, or cornerback Amari Spievey.

In particular, the departures of Moeaki, Bulaga, and Calloway worry Ferentz because of the lack of depth and experience among the tight ends and on the offensive line. The head coach said coming up with his first offensive-line depth chart was like “throwing darts, basically.”

Senior Julian Vandervelde and sophomore Riley Reiff are the only returning starters among the tight ends and offensive linemen. Among the rest of those present on the two-deep, senior tight end Allen Reisner is the only one with significant playing experience.

“We are pretty much just flipping coins right now, and depth charts don’t mean a lot at this point, but hopefully, we’ll be further along here in four weeks,” Ferentz said.

While the absence of Edds and Angerer also leaves the linebacker situation in flux, Ferentz is flush with running backs headed into the start of spring practice.

Sophomore Jewel Hampton, Shonn Greene’s backup during the 2008 season, missed all of last season with a torn ACL. Hampton has been cleared to practice, Ferentz said, but Hampton’s backfield mate, Adam Robinson, will miss spring ball after having shoulder surgery.

Brandon Wegher, who had 641 yards and eight touchdowns last season as a true freshman, is certainly in the backfield mix as well, giving Ferentz a bevy of running-back options.

“Our first goal is to get more than two guys to the game,” Ferentz said. “We have had a hard time doing that, unfortunately. It’s a real luxury item when we have three backs, so if we can get to that point, that would be great.”

Injuries

Wide receiver Paul Chaney, who tore his ACL last season, is making progress, but he won’t be fully healthy until June, Ferentz said. The Hawkeyes’ two starting safeties from the 2009 season, Brett Greenwood and Tyler Sash, will also miss spring practice with shoulder injuries.

Redshirt freshman Nolan MacMillan, who is listed as the second-string right tackle, is still recovering from sports hernia surgery. Ferentz is unsure how long MacMillan will be out of practice.

Ferentz comments on Lickliter

Not long ago — when the men’s basketball team entered conference play with a 3-7 record — Ferentz urged the Hawkeye fans to remain patient with Todd Lickliter and Company, saying, “I think he’s a top-shelf coach and person. He’s just a great fit for our school and our state.”

Three months and 15 losses later, Athletics Director Gary Barta fired Lickliter. The school’s search for a new head coach is ongoing.

“And needless to say, [I’m] just sorry about the situation that developed with Todd Lickliter,” Ferentz said on Wednesday. “Todd has been a great friend and will continue to be, and I have got tremendous respect for him as a basketball coach.”


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