Getting in sync

Iowa+Jerminic+Smith+attempts+to+recieve+the+ball+during+the+Homecoming+game+against+Illinois+in+Kinnick+Stadium+on+Saturday%2C+October+10%2C+2015.+The+pass+was+incomplete.+Smith+received+for+a+total+of++118-yards+on+the+game.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Illini%2C+29-20.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FAlyssa+Hitchcock%29

The Daily Iowan

Iowa Jerminic Smith attempts to recieve the ball during the Homecoming game against Illinois in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, October 10, 2015. The pass was incomplete. Smith received for a total of 118-yards on the game. The Hawkeyes defeated the Illini, 29-20. (The Daily Iowan/Alyssa Hitchcock)

Getting quarterbacks and receivers in the same area is one of the big advantages of having a spring-football season.

Under the watchful eye of their coaches, they can create timing and chemistry that they hope carries over to the regular season. While some of the same things will likely be worked on over the summer privately, this is time for Iowa’s coaches to get a solid handle on what the passing attack is going to look like.

During Iowa’s final spring practice, 1 p.m. Saturday in Kinnick, how quarterback C.J. Beathard and his targets look should be one of the major takeaways.

If offensive coordinator Greg Davis is to be believed, there should be optimism, because it sounds as if Beathard is looking exactly the way a senior captain should.

“C.J. has had a heck of a spring. You can tell he’s totally in charge in terms of what’s going on, decisions that he has to make,” Davis said. “We’ve opened some things up to give him even more flexibility at the line of scrimmage.”

Very little of the downfield attack was displayed at the West Des Moines Valley practice on April 8. Cold and fierce winds kept Beathard from doing a whole lot then, which will hopefully not be the case this weekend.

Outside of the current starting three wide receivers — Matt VandeBerg, Riley McCarron, and Jerminic Smith — expect tight end George Kittle to also see plenty of targets.
Wide receivers Jay Scheel and Jonathan Parker have been talked up quite a bit by their coaches during this period. Scheel, a highly touted recruit, redshirted in 2014 and battled an injury last season.

“It’s really the first spring we’ve seen him where he knew what to do and he was well,” Davis said. “So he’s come a long way. And you can just see that when he goes out there now, his head is not spinning. He’s more relaxed and comfortable.”

Backup backs

If history is any indication, Iowa will need more than three running backs this year.
LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley will both see plenty of carries this year and if Derrick Mitchell Jr. gets healthy, he’s probably the third-down back. After Mitchell, things get interesting. Marcel Joly seems to be ahead of Eric Graham for the third-string spot.

“We have two younger guys right now,” Iowa running-back coach Chris White said of the two younger running backs. “They are just trying to figure stuff out right now. Right now, Marcel Joly is a redshirt sophomore who has really had a good spring, and the past couple days, he’s really shown some flashes of his athletic ability.”

There is also a battle at fullback. Drake Kulick is leading the fight at the moment, but Brady Ross and Austin Kelly have both had their names thrown around.

“There are several guys there we feel comfortable with,” Davis said. “We’ll come out with a good fullback.”

Kicker competition

Miguel Recinos and Mick Ellis are neck-in-neck for the starting kicker position.

White, who also coaches the special teams units, admitted they’ve struggled at times, and the Hawkeyes will miss Marshall Koehn.

“[The kicking battle] is going to go probably till game day, I would think, unless someone just really emerges right now,” White said. “But it’s neck-and-neck right now. One guy has a good day, the other guy has a good day. We’ve just got to be more consistent.”

Follow @JordyHansen for Iowa football news, updates, and analysis.

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