The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa football notebook | First-year offensive coordinator Tim Lester brings ‘infectious energy’

Several offensive players spoke Thursday about Lester’s positive but intense demeanor during practice.
Emily Nyberg
Iowa quarterback Deacon Hill prepares for a play during the Big Ten football championship game between No.18 Iowa and No. 2 Michigan at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. The Wolverines defeated the Hawkeyes 26-0. Hill totaled 120 passing yards and was sacked four times.

It’s been the ‘Lester Show’ so far during Iowa football spring camp.

While head coach Kirk Ferentz mainly sticks with the offensive line, according to quarterback Deacon Hill, Tim Lester has been implementing his new playbook with an “intense” approach.

Left guard Nick DeJong said Lester, who’s in his first few months as offensive coordinator, brings an “infectious energy” to practice every day that makes it easy for players to want to come in and get better. Along with that infectious, positive energy, Lester is deemed as demanding, but in a good way.

“Brian [Ferentz] was intense, and Lester I’d say is just as intense or even more. He’s more hands-on, and that’s with everybody in total, not just like the quarterbacks or receivers,” Hill said. “He kind of explains in detail what he wants out of every single position.”

Hill said it’s nice to have an offensive coordinator who has previous playing experience as a quarterback and said Lester “definitely knows what he’s talking about.” Hill also thinks Jon Budmayr’s move from quarterbacks to wide receivers has been a positive change. Budmayr was the main reason Hill transferred to Iowa, so despite the coach’s position change, the pair still has a strong bond.

“I think the weirdest thing is hearing him yell, but it’s not at me,” Hill said of Budmayr with a laugh. “But it’s also nice having a quarterback brain in the wide receiver room. He understands what we’re trying to do, and he can make the receivers understand what we’re all trying to do.”

In terms of fundamentals, players said nothing on the offensive side of the ball has changed. Instead, it’s the way plays are run that has differed.

“If you look at some NFL offenses in terms of, you know, how they run those things, I think that’s where things are a little bit different,” Dejong said. “Because you ask, ‘Are you still running outside zone?’ Yes. ‘Are you still running inside zone?’ Yes. I mean, it’s just the way that it’s run I think is where they could have changed.”

DeJong said learning the new offense has been challenging at times, but he thinks his unit has picked up on Lester’s playbook faster because of their veteran experience.

Returning for the Hawkeyes up front is DeJong, three-year starting left tackle Mason Richman, center Logan Jones, right guard Connor Colby, and right tackle Gennings Dunker. Joining that group is Beau Stephens, who started 10 games at right guard in 2022 but missed some time with a knee injury last year, and Tyler Elsbury, a fifth-year who has appeared in 37 games during his time in Iowa City. 

A recurring theme from DeJong and other offensive players on Thursday was the increase in pre-snap motion and shots downfield.

Hill said they’re working on getting in and out of the huddle quicker, but “we do have a little no huddle.” Hill, who is taking most QB1 reps this spring because Cade McNamara is still rehabbing from injury, added receivers are “in the blocking schemes a lot more” and learning new routes.

Wideout Kaleb Brown described the offense as “more wide-receiver friendly” and said his goal is to record 1000-plus receiving yards this season. Hill shouted out Jarriett Buie and Kaden Wetjen as two wideouts having a good spring camp. The quarterback also mentioned the improvements from Hayden Large, who played fullback last season but has transitioned into his former tight-end role.

Tight end Luke Lachey, who suffered a season-ending injury and is now a “full-go” in spring camp, said his position group is a “focal point” of the offense and will be used similarly to in previous years. Lachey was Iowa’s leading receiver when he got hurt against Western Michigan on Sep. 16, 2023.

Lachey could’ve declared for the NFL Draft but said Iowa “has a knack for getting people to say because the culture here is so amazing.” During recovery, Lachey picked up reading as a hobby. He said “The Energy Bus” by Jon Gordon helped him stay positive and find his role on the team when he was sidelined. 

“A lot of guys were kind of leaning on coming back, so I felt like there would be a lot of potential for our team,” Lachey said. “But even just personally, I felt like there’s more I could do here and more I could learn to help myself be better prepared for the NFL.”

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About the Contributors
Kenna Roering
Kenna Roering, Sports Editor
Kenna Roering is The Daily Iowan's sports editor. She is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism with a minor in sports and recreation management. Kenna previously worked as a sports reporter for men's wrestling and volleyball and was the summer sports editor in 2023. This is her second year with the DI.
Emily Nyberg
Emily Nyberg, Visual Editor
Emily Nyberg is a second-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic arts. Prior to her role as a Visual Editor, Emily was a Photojournalist, and a News Reporter covering higher education.