Offense beats defense in spring scrimmage

BY DANNY PAYNE | APRIL 27, 2015 5:00 AM

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If fans in Kinnick Stadium on April 25 were looking for offensive fireworks from Iowa’s football team, they likely went home disappointed. Although the Hawkeye offense beat the defense, 29-28, Iowa’s first-team offense struggled to gain traction against the first-team defense.

It took the offense until the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter to find the end zone, when running back Akrum Wadley scampered in untouched from 4 yards out against the defensive reserves.

However, that lack of production wasn’t concerning to head coach Kirk Ferentz, who said it’s not uncommon for the defense to be ahead of the offense during spring ball.

“At this point, after 15 days, our defense might know our offense better than the offense does, quite frankly,” Ferentz said. “That happens in camp, too, when you work against each other pretty extensively — that’s nothing to be alarmed about.”

Beathard good and bad

Like the entire spring scrimmage, quarterback C.J. Beathard’s performance in a damp and windy Kinnick Stadium should be taken with a grain of salt. Iowa doesn’t open the season until September, after all.

Like his offense, Beathard’s showing was less than stellar. He struggled to get in any sort of rhythm with his wide receivers and overthrew them on numerous occasions. Part of that was due to the conditions, but Iowa will benefit largely from Beathard finding the right touch on home runs.

“If we had gone through that whole time without scoring a single touchdown, it would have sucked,” Beathard said. “It’s kind of like a game; sometimes you just get in there and can’t score, you just kick field goals. You just have to keep pounding away.”

Line play

To keep with the defense, theme, the No. 1 defensive line looked better than the No. 1 offensive line all afternoon. That’s not a surprise, given that seniors Drew Ott and Nate Meier are in the upper-tier of the Big Ten’s defensive end duos and offensive tackles Boone Myers and Ike Boettger are first-year starters.

In particular, Ott made a living in the backfield and would have likely had numerous sacks had Beathard not been wearing the red “don’t touch me” jersey.

“I think we’re communicating better as a defense; everyone kind of trusts everyone and can ask each other questions,” Ott said. “There’s no rivalries among us, we’re just working toward a common goal.”

Running backs deep

Although no official stats were kept, the Hawkeye running backs looked promising. There were some missed holes, but Wadley, along with Jordan Canzeri, LeShun Daniels Jr., and converted wide receiver Derrick Mitchell, Jr. looked the best of any offensive group.

Albeit a small sample size, Wadley looks to have gotten rid of his fumbling troubles, and don’t be shocked if Mitchell plays a significant role for the Hawks in the coming years.

Should they get lanes to run through, the running backs will have a strong season.

Duzey injured

Because of an injury suffered in practice last week, Iowa will be without tight end Jake Duzey until the season begins, at the very earliest.

A senior, Duzey has 58 career catches and is arguably Iowa’s second-best target behind receiver Tevaun Smith. George Kittle got the majority of the reps in place of Duzey in the spring scrimmage.

“Based on what I heard, I think it’s realistic to think we’ll get him back for the season,” Ferentz said. “It might not be right off the bat, but hopefully, we’ll get him back for the season.”

Follow @dannyapayne on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa football team.

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