A visit to Valley Stadium will whet your appetite for Iowa football, and may also provide a few insights.
The Hawkeyes arrive in West Des Moines on Saturday for a 1 p.m. practice that is open to the public.
It’ll be our first full glimpse at the 2014 roster and how things might play out this fall.
The key is, knowing what to look for. So here’s a five-step guide:
PAY ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS
Fans must have a ticket, which were available for free at participating Hy-Vee stores. The west and southeast gates open at 11:30 a.m.
There will NOT be parking available at Valley Stadium, except for a limited number of handicap spots in the west lot. The Valley Church parking lot, adjacent to the stadium, will have public parking until 4:30 p.m.
Additional parking will be available at Valley Southwoods School, Jordan Creek Elementary, West Des Moines City Hall, the library and West Des Moines Church. Due to the parking limits, fans are encouraged to carpool when possible.
KEEP AN EYE ON THE KICKERS
It’s pretty easy to snooze during warmups, especially when the special teams are involved.
But an intriguing tussle is taking place between punters Connor Kornbrath and Dillon Kidd.
Kornbrath is the incumbent, but his performance last season was spotty.
“We felt that Connor needed to be pushed,” special teams coach Chris White said. “It’s helped Connor for sure. Dillon is in heavy competition with Connor.”
This is also a debut for place-kicker Marshall Koehn, with four-year starter Mike Meyer gone.
“He knows this is a huge opportunity for him, and he wants to take advantage of it,” White said. “He’s got a really strong leg. The ball jumps off his foot.”
FOCUS ON SOMEBODY BESIDES THE QUARTERBACK
Jake Rudock became the starting quarterback in 2013, and now the real intrigue might be what’s going on with the rest of the offense.
Rudock has more than a half-dozen receivers he can throw to – including Kevonte Martin-Manley, who has 122 career catches for 1,282 yards – but we’re not sure if any of them can emerge as a consistent, reliable playmaker.
He also has four experienced running backs, and a couple others waiting for the chance to prove themselves.
“The most important thing right now is to get the entire team ready,” Rudock said, “(and) get the team better.”
ENJOY THE PROCESS
Much of the talk this spring has centered on the Hawkeyes needing to replace their top three linebackers.
Projected starters Travis Perry, Quinton Alston and Reggie Spearman will get first crack at filling the void.
But it’s going to take time.
“It’s going to be fun,” Alston said. “We need some leaders to emerge, and I feel like I have the opportunity to do that.
“Especially playing middle linebacker, I think I need to be one of those guys, I want to be one of those guys and I will be one of those guys.”
CHECK THE TEMPERATURE
When the Hawkeyes visited West Des Moines a year ago, there was cautious vibe. They were coming off a 4-8 season in 2012, and the mood of the 8,000 fans who filtered into Valley Stadium sort of matched by overcast skies.
Saturday’s forecast includes a 50 percent chance of rain, but at least there’s a brighter outlook for this fall.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football