Aug. 11, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa - - University of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz saw some good things from his football team at Saturday's open practice, part of "Kid's Day at Kinnick" that drew an estimated 15,000 fans. But, Ferentz pointed out his young squad has work to do before opening the season Sept. 1 against Northern Illinois at Soldier Field in Chicago.
"We had a number of mistakes and penalties that you might expect with the first practice where we have used officials," said Ferentz. "Certainly we have things to work on and clean up. The tight end play is one of our better positions right now and our receivers as a group have improved over the spring."
Junior tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz drew praise from Ferentz during the spring, and Iowa's head coach has also been pleased with the play of Zach Derby. "We feel good about C.J., and Zach Derby had a solid spring as well," noted Ferentz. "And some of the younger guys are doing some good things.
A number of Hawkeyes were held out of Saturday's practice because of injuries, but Ferentz expects the majority of them to return to practice in the next few days. Freshman defensive back Ruben Lile and junior offensive lineman Nolan MacMillan are two players who have suffered significant injuries.
"Ruben suffered a knee injury and will miss the season," said Ferentz. "Nolan suffered a fracture in his hand and had surgery last week. We hope to have Nolan back practicing by the middle of next week. We have a couple of guys who will miss some time with significant sprains, but everything else is bumps and bruises. It is frustrating in that it makes it hard to make progress, hard to evaluate where you are as a team."
While several of Iowa's young running backs did not participate Saturday, Ferentz is hopeful they will be back in the mix early in the week. "The running backs are not in the sprain category," said Ferentz. "Our young guys at that position are doing good things and have a chance to be back Monday.
"Injuries are part of football," continued Ferentz. "The majority of the minor things we have right now are with younger guys who are still trying to figure out the tempo, in general. Youth factors in there."
Because of the number of minor injuries, Ferentz was asked about the amount of tackling his team does during preseason practice.
"We don't tackle much in practice, we haven't done much of that since I've been here," said Ferentz. "Guys who are going to touch the ball need to be tackled, at some point, and guys on defense have to tackle. We may have to do a little more, moving forward, than we had planned. There is no right answer to it."
"You can tell that Dom and Carl missed time in the spring," said Ferentz. "They aren't there yet, but they are working hard and I'm confident they will get there. Louis Trinca-Pasat, Joe Gaglione and Steve Bigach are competing up front as well. We have work to do, but we are on the right path with the defensive front. They are doing some good things."