IOWA CITY, Iowa - I've attended a couple of decades of Iowa Football Kids Day open practices. I could probably count on one hand the times the offense has looked better than the defense at the annual event. Saturday here at Kinnick Stadium was one of those days.
Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz was quick to point out that each side of the ball has taken turns besting the other through the first eight days of camp. It also should be pointed out that it was hard to judge if some of the bigger plays on offense would have gained big yards had there been full-on tackling. In addition, the defensive coaches pointed out a lot of missed penalties.
While perspective is needed, it's a good sign that the offense played well in front of fans against a defense that annually ranks among the best in the Big Ten. If nothing else, confidence is boosted.
Here are some other thoughts and observations from Kids Day:
-Again, it's only one day, but Spencer Petras clearly looked like QB1. The second-year starter showed the most consistency at the position Saturday.
Ferentz pointed out that his signal callers all have had their good and bad days when asked about them. Petras also benefited from working the No. 1 offense but he competed against the top defense as well.
-Iowa is well stocked at running back. Tyler Goodson, Ivory Kelly-Martin, Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams probably won't all get work on a regular basis, but any of the four look capable of carrying the load. True freshman Deavin Hilson is no slouch, either.
-The competition at tight end is interesting. Starter Sam LaPorta is a given, but he's the only one in the group with college experience.
Luke Lachey has performed well in the spring and looked good again Saturday, but keep an eye on Josiah Miamen. He delivered the catch of the afternoon at Kids Day, a one-handed grab with a defender draped over him.
-The Hawkeyes have five-starting caliber cornerbacks, at least. Matt Hankins and Riley Moss are the current No. 1s. Terry Roberts, Jermari Harris and Xavior Williams could slide in and do the job if anything happened to the top two.
-True freshmen receivers Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce IV will contribute this season. They look better now than they did in the spring and are running with the top two units.
-There were quite a few center-quarterback exchange issues beyond the first-team. The reserves on offense also were flagged several false start penalties.
-Kaevon Merriweather left practice early after suffering a shoulder injury. Ferentz said it was nothing serious. Fellow defensive backs Roberts and Dane Belton wore red jerseys, indicating they were dealing with health issues.
Quavon Matthews, Griffin Liddle, Jeff Bowie, Brody Brecht, David Davidkov, Logan Jones, Kyler Schott and Noah Shannon were among those student-athletes who did not practice Saturday.
-Ferentz said he could see Iowa rotating its top trio of linebackers when it plays 4-2-5. Jack Campbell and Seth Benson will start. Like them, Jestin Jacobs, who would start at LEO in a 4-3, knows all three spots on the second level.
Jacobs is playing faster than he was in the spring. A rotation keeps them all fresh. I like it.