Expect an offense heavy Spring Game

BY CODY GOODWIN | APRIL 25, 2014 5:00 AM

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On the first day of 2014, after Iowa lost to LSU in the Outback Bowl, 21-14, head coach Kirk Ferentz made it seem as if there would be an off-season quarterback competition, pitting Jake Rudock against backup C.J. Beathard.

Nearly 112 days later, that competition — at least in the eyes of offensive coordinator Greg Davis — effectively came to an end.

“You know, the No. 2 quarterback is the most popular guy on any campus or any NFL team in the country,” Davis said on Wednesday. “And we are very pleased with C.J. “But, we feel like at this point, Jake is definitely the guy.”

This should be good news as the Iowa football team prepares for its Spring Game, set for Saturday at 2 p.m. at Kinnick Stadium. The scrimmage will conclude the Hawkeyes’ slate of spring practices for 2014.

It’s good news because naming a starter at quarterback will allow for the Hawkeye offense to progress even further during the off-season program. It means the most important piece is in place, and the rest of the players won’t have to worry about who’s handing or throwing the ball to them.

Fans of the Black and Gold will get their first glimpse of what the Iowa offense will look like at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday. Almost every skill-position player on the offense is healthy and improving — especially in the receiving corps, which has seen some slight changes in the depth chart since the spring first began.

Most notably, Derrick Willies, a redshirt freshman, cracked the most recent depth chart behind Tevaun Smith at split end. Even more, Matt VandeBerg is listed behind Kevonte Martin-Manley, while Jacob Hillyer and Damond Powell round out the other two receiver spots.

The running backs appear to be sorting themselves out as well. Hawkeye fans should expect a heavy dose of Mark Weisman and Jordan Canzeri, as the two occupy the top tailback spots for Davis’s offense.

Nothing is set in stone just yet, of course, but if Saturday’s scrimmage is anything like Iowa’s practice in Des Moines, fans will be treated to an aerial showing, allowing the skill players to flash some of their speed and abilities.

“When you’re playing with tempo, and for the receivers to play in the run and the pass game, the way you want, you have to rotate some players in there,” Davis said, adding that the competition to earn playing time is “much greater” than when he first came to Iowa City.

Ferentz said on Wednesday that Saturday’s Spring Game won’t be entirely indicative of how he’ll organize the depth chart for fall camp in August. He said the coaching staff will likely take time to evaluate before cementing players at certain positions.

“Our big focus is finishing this week [is] doing the best we can to have our team improve,” Ferentz said. “We’ll just give it some thought after this week and try to do what’s best for the program moving forward.”

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