Fans storm the field after the Iowa-Michigan game at Kinnick on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. The Hawkeyes defeated No. 2 Michigan by a 33-yard field goal with no time left to win, 14-13. (The Daily Iowan/Margaret Kispert)

Football wraps up spring of changes

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By Courtney Baumann

courtney-baumann@uiowa.edu

The Iowa football team will host its last practice of the spring tonight in Kinnick Stadium, when it wraps up the season with the annual Spring Game.

It’s been a busy spring for the Hawkeyes with various coaching changes throughout the program. Brian Ferentz became the new offensive coordinator, Kelton Copeland joined the staff this year from Northern Illinois, Ken
O’Keefe rejoined Iowa after a stint with the Miami Dolphins, and Tim Polasek came from North Dakota State to take over the offensive line.

Needless to say, there has been a lot of new information getting pushed at the Hawkeyes.

Although five weeks is a short amount of time to implement new systems, Ferentz can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“We’ve gotten what we need to evaluate guys and to find out what we’re good at,” Ferentz said. “Certainly don’t get everything put in in the spring, but in some ways, the spring is difficult because you have so much in. We’re trying to get as much on tape, as much evaluated as we can.”

Having the Spring Game gives players — particularly newcomers — the opportunity to show coaches and fans what they are capable of in front of a crowd, some of them for the first time.

One athlete in particular, transfer wide receiver Nick Easley, has had a good spring — the best out of all the receivers, Ferentz said.

Easley, who was a preferred walk-on, spent time at Iowa Western before joining the Hawkeyes in January.

“I didn’t have a lot of opportunities out of high school … [I had] William Penn, Grandview, Missouri Western, and that’s about it,” Easley said about his recruiters as he came out of high school.

After an especially impressive last season at Iowa Western, Iowa began courting Easley. Both of Easley’s parents graduated from Iowa, and he’s been a Hawkeye fan most of his life, making the adjustment to not only a higher-level program but a new school that much easier.

“There’s been some adjustment,” Easley said. “I’ve played against some really good players in the past, too. But I’d say there’s been definitely a jump in speed in the competition.”

As for the Spring Game, it will be played in a similar fashion to what has been done in the past. Offense can score points through touchdowns and points after, explosive plays, first downs, and field goals. Defense can score through touchdowns, takeaways, three-and-outs, point after blocks, or sudden stops after an offensive march down the field.

The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network, something Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz is particularly happy about.

In the past, the Spring Game has been held during the afternoon, but this one is set to start at 7:06 p.m. today.

Kirk Ferentz said this was to see if the team could draw a larger crowd than what it has seen in the past.

“As part of our thinking about doing the Friday night game, having an opportunity to do that, hopefully good from a recruiting standpoint but also eager to see just what the fan experience is,” the head coach said. “Seems like night games over there have been received pretty favorably. So try it in the spring, and we’ll gauge it afterwards what it feels like.”