Iowa held its annual Kids’ Day at Kinnick on Aug. 11, giving fans an opportunity to meet players and watch the Hawkeyes run through position drills and some live action.
Here are The Daily Iowan’s takeaways from the practice.
Starting offense looks solid on first drive
During the scrimmage (if you want to call it that; Iowa’s offense and defense essentially ran live action without tackling or a scoring system) portion of practice, the offense seemed to be in a decent rhythm.
“We looked kind of cohesive as a whole group,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said about Iowa’s first drive. “That’s encouraging, because that doesn’t happen very often, especially in August.”
On the starters’ first drive, Stanley completed all 4 of his passes for 34 yards, but his best play came on a fourth-and-3. The play broke down, and he rolled to his right, directed Noah Fant mid-play, and threw the ball across the field for the tight end — a perfect pass to pick up the first down.
The Iowa offense featured a variety of play calls. On the play before the fourth-down conversion, the Hawkeyes ran a wide-receiver reverse with Smith-Marsette. On Iowa’s first two plays, Stanley threw passes to his backs — an 8-yard gain to fullback Brady Ross and a 5-yard gain to Ivory Kelly-Martin. Kelly-Martin also received the bulk of the carries on the drive.
Ups and downs in receiving game
Iowa’s receivers ran through route drills at Kinnick and did so with mixed results.
During a drill in which receivers ran 10-yard curls, Iowa had four-straight drops, all on passes that could have been caught.
Just minutes later, the group ran fly routes along the sideline, and the receivers made great adjustments to the ball in the air and snagged some impressive catches. Smith-Marsette made the nicest grab of them all, a one-handed reception as he came close to the sideline and into the end zone.
Mekhi Sargent’s strong outing
Sargent, a junior-college transfer from Iowa Western, looked sharp during his reps in live action.
The sophomore scored on a 36-yard run during the scrimmage portion, then added another touchdown during red-zone drills.
“It’s catching up to the speed of the game and that type of thing, but he really showed like he’s got a feel for things and he can do some things,” Ferentz said. “He’s been really impressive so far … it’s encouraging to see him come along like that.”
Sargent has a very solid shot at finding his name in Iowa’s running-back rotation this season. Last season with Iowa Western, he knocked out 1,449 yards, averaging nearly 6.5 yards per carry.