Our first set of spring game recaps finishes up with the Iowa Hawkeyes, who held a controlled scrimmage at the end of Saturday's practice at Kinnick Stadium.
How it went down: As is its custom, Iowa didn't hold a true spring game but rather a controlled scrimmage that featured some situational portions.
The big attraction for fans was the new offense, which predictably had some ups and downs. James Vandenberg completed only 12 of 30 passes, making an excellent throw to Don Shumpert for a 38-yard gain but not establishing much of a rhythm without his top receiver (Keenan Davis) on the field for the scrimmage portion. He had an interception nullified by penalty, while reserve quarterbacks Jake Rudock and Cody Sokol both were picked off once.
Running backs Damon Bullock and De'Andre Johnson both had big gains, including a 84-yard touchdown dash by Bullock that highlighted the scrimmage. Johnson had a fumble in the scrimmage, but both men eclipsed 100 rush yards.
"There's a little bit of mental gymnastics going on with guys on calls and formations and you saw us not line up correctly a couple of times," head coach Kirk Ferentz told reporters. "But that's part of the process. ... My sense is the guys knew there was a lot to learn coming in and I think they’ve been tuned in as a result of that."
Like the offense, Iowa's defense has a new coordinator in Phil Parker, but the scheme changes are less dramatic, and the unit showed some bright spots Saturday. The secondary should be better than it was in 2011, particularly at cornerback with Lowery and All-Big Ten candidate Micah Hyde. Corners Gavin Smith and Jordan Lomax also contributed big plays during the scrimmage.
The back seven will lead Iowa's defense entering the season, while the line looks to get healthy and build more depth during the summer months. Vandenberg should be fine by September, but Iowa needs to add more weapons around him, making running back, receiver and tight end interesting positions to watch. The offense remains a work in progress, but it could be a dynamic unit this fall.