Scrimmage to Set Tone

Aug. 16, 2005

It’s crunch time for the Iowa football team as it enters the second week of fall camp, but as Head Coach Kirk Ferentz was quick to point out Monday “it’s a four-lap race and we’ve only taken the first lap.”

“We’re off to a good start, which is obviously better than getting off to a bad start or a so-so start,” he said. “The key is how we sustain this through the rest of the preseason.”

The team endured its first full scrimmage Tuesday, which is a critical practice for those coming into new positions. The jobs of starting running back, defensive line, tight end, and punter are all up for grabs. The team has had 10 practices since players reported on Aug. 7 and have eight to go.

“It’s just a matter of seeing how they compete and what they do in the scrimmage situation,” Ferentz said of the running backs. “They’re all practicing pretty well, and it’s just the test of time. I think over the long haul things become more clear, both good and bad. Things tend to sort themselves out. We’ll let that take place.”

Marques Simmons, Damian Sims and Sam Brownlee return at running back for the Hawkeyes while Marcus Schnoor and Albert Young have fully recovered from anterior cruciate ligament injuries sustained last year and reenter the mix.

While Ferentz said last week that Simmons is No. 1 on the depth chart, he said Monday the job is wide open.

“Somebody, to me, really has to elevate themselves from the pack, and I don’t foresee that happening, but you never know,” he said.

The coach did say that new defensive end Mike Follett, tackle Ettore Ewen, strong safety Miguel Merrick, tight ends Ryan Majerus and Scott Chandler, left tackle Ben Gates, fullback Tom Busch, and sophomore wide receiver Herb Grigsby have all had a “real positive start” to the preseason.

“We handled the weather well, which was a positive. The team didn’t wilt during the weather. This is a week of a lot of work, and it’s the second week so the hotel gets old, your teammates get old, a lot of things get old. Things that weren’t bugging them last week are going to start bugging them this week, but that’s all part of the process. It’s a test.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz

“I think our practices have been pretty productive,” Ferentz said. “There’s been good retention where you’d hope it would be – the experienced guys are using their experience and not just sitting back.

“I think the flow has been good so far, and the guys have had a good attitude – hustling around and doing things well.”

Ferentz is concerned, though, that his team may start to stall this week.

“It could happen at any time,” he said. “We handled the weather well, which was a positive. The team didn’t wilt during the weather. This is a week of a lot of work, and it’s the second week so the hotel gets old, your teammates get old, a lot of things get old. Things that weren’t bugging them last week are going to start bugging them this week, but that’s all part of the process. It’s a test.”

The next test for the team will come at 11 a.m. Saturday during the Alliant Kid’s Day fall scrimmage, which will be one of the players’ first looks at the refurbished Kinnick Stadium before hosting Ball State on Sept. 3.

“We want them to get at least used to playing in the stadium because it looks different now,” Ferentz said. “We want to get them used to that. We want to break them in a little bit so that by the third time the novelty has worn out.”

Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com