Offense wins Spring Game

BY CODY GOODWIN | APRIL 28, 2014 5:00 AM

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The first few opening series of the April 26 Spring Game appeared as though the contest might turn into a defensive romp. In the first five minutes of the final scrimmage of Iowa football’s spring season, the offense recorded merely two first downs — and it wasn’t until there was fewer than six minutes left on the clock that the offense finally found the end zone.

Despite the slow start, the offense ended up winning the game, 46-31. It was an entertaining showing of both the first- and second-team units, which rotated with every series and scored points by way of explosive plays, turnovers, sacks, and touchdowns, among other unique rules.

“It was a really nice turnout with a lot of good energy out there,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I think the whole team made progress and improved over the course of the spring, which is what every coach is looking for. We had our ups and downs this spring, but I think overall, the attitude has been really good. The guys are trying to get something accomplished, and I think we are. 
“We’re improving, but we’re hardly ready to play.”

Willies steals the day

If there was any way to improve on his performance from two weeks ago in Des Moines, Derrick Willies certainly did that on April 26. The redshirt freshman caught 5 passes for more than 100 yards — including a 42-yard touchdown catch from sophomore quarterback C.J. Beathard for the afternoon’s first touchdown.

Willies might very well be the big-play spark that the Iowa offense has been searching for since the graduation of Marvin McNutt. During both the Spring Game and the practice in West Des Moines, Willies moved extremely well in space, made athletic grabs, and proved he could fight for yards after the catch.

“He’s a talented player,” senior receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley said. “He plays with a lot of confidence, he plays with a lot of heart, and he made some big plays today.”

Defensive line to be a force

Part of the reason the offense struggled to establish any sort of rhythm early on was the defensive line’s relentless pass rush. Ferentz said afterwards that he didn’t intend on running the ball a lot, which allowed for the defensive line to attack the pocket more often.

The defense, on the whole, tallied a handful of sacks, which came from a myriad of players. Both Drew Ott and Louis Trinca-Pasat, who are listed as starters at both defensive end and tackle, corralled at least one sack each.

Trinca-Pasat and interior defensive lineman Carl Davis have created a lot of buzz this spring after improving by leaps and bounds from a year ago. The duo is being tabbed as two of the Big Ten’s best, but Trinca-Pasat said they’ve both put the praise aside for now.

“It’s nice, but at the same time we have to go out and do our job,” Trinca-Pasat said. “People love to talk, and we need to go out and prove ourselves. That’s the most important thing.”

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