Spring Central: Hawkeyes continue quest for consistency

April 20, 2009

Final Spring Scrimmage (April 18) | Final Spring Scrimmage Video

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The task now for University of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and his staff is to take a consistently inconsistent football team and turn it into a Big Ten Conference force.

“We’re very inconsistent right now,” Ferentz said moments after the Hawkeyes wrapped up their 15th and final day of spring drills Saturday. “We can’t do much well for a sustained period of time. We’re going to have a lot to work on when we get back together in August. It’s not like you just put on a T-shirt and helmet and go out and polish up a couple things and be ready to go. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Iowa is coming off a 9-4 season, highlighted by a 31-10 victory over South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. Adding to the program’s momentum and optimism is the fact that the Hawkeyes head into summer `fairly healthy’ according to Ferentz. Competition for playing time has also been healthy.

“The team’s attitude has been good and it all starts there,” Ferentz said. “The work ethic has been pretty decent. We don’t have any real serious health concerns right now, so that’s pretty good, too.”

Ferentz repeated one of the best Hawkeye stories of the spring: the resurgence of 6-foot-6, 300-pound offensive guard Dace Richardson. Richardson, a native of Wheaton, Ill., has been sidelined because of injuries for the majority of his career, but now appears strong enough to make a return to the playing field.

“I don’t think any of us would have predicted with confidence that this could happen,” Ferentz said. “He’s made it through every practice and he’s been out here working and he has a smile on his face. I’m happy for him and it’s a credit to our medical folks, but more so for Dace, because he put in an awful lot of hard work and stayed the course.”

According to Ferentz, of all the positions that should see the biggest gains between now and summer camp is quarterback. Junior Ricky Stanzi has the experience and he is backed up by two competent red-shirt freshmen — James Vandenberg and John Wienke.

“Both have good futures,” Ferentz said. “This was a real good period for those guys. I like what they’re doing.”

The final practice of the spring included a third scrimmage that was open to player’s family and the media.

“It was probably representative of our spring,” Ferentz said. “I think there were some good things going on out on the field, but certainly we have a lot that we still need to clean up and work on. We’re seeing some progress which has been pleasing, but there are still a lot of loose edges right now and it’s probably how it ought to be during spring practice.”

The Hawkeyes will put their four-game winning streak on the line when they open the 2009 season at home against Northern Iowa on Sept. 5. Last season UNI finished 12-3 and advanced to the Football Championship Series semifinals before losing to eventual champion Richmond, 21-20.

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