Three things to watch for in Iowa's spring game
When: Saturday, 1 p.m. CT
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
-C.J. Beathard’s mobility
Following sports hernia surgery in January, Beathard has been working his way back to full strength throughout the spring. He dealt with hip and groin injuries that prevented him from looking like the guy we saw in non-conference play.
We still won’t see him look like that on Saturday. The question is how well we’ll see Beathard move outside of the pocket. Nobody is about to tee off on the second-team All-B1G quarterback. You might not even see two hands put on Beathard throughout Saturday’s game.
But in order for Iowa to avoid a step back, Beathard has to be at 100 percent. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis said that he almost forgot what it looks like to see the Iowa senior healthy. Saturday will be big in that it will give Beathard his first full-speed test since the surgery. His numbers obviously aren’t important. All Iowa fans can hope for is that he looks comfortable and physically capable of delivering an encore performance.
-How often Desmond King gets thrown at
I said repeatedly last year that I didn’t understand why so many quarterbacks were willing to throw at King. The interceptions leader is a marked man now. He’ll be at the top of every scouting report, which means that he’ll likely see a dip in interceptions.
In a spring game, I’ll take the under on the amount of times King gets thrown at. Backups are competing for jobs and the last thing they want to do is look silly throwing at a consensus All-American. That could mean a quiet day for whoever is lined up across the Jim Thorpe Award winner.
We likely won’t see King on the field for very long. We shouldn’t, at least. But if and when somebody throws an easy pick for King, I’ll ask the same question that I asked throughout 2015.
Why are people still throwing at him?
While everybody was keeping tabs on Drew Ott’s situation, Nelson was off having himself a big spring. Iowa needs that with the loss of Ott. The coaching staff complimented the development of the 6-8 defensive end throughout spring. The sophomore will have a prime opportunity to solidify that spot.
I’m interested in seeing how Nelson gets off blocks against Iowa’s first-team offensive line. He and 6-7 Anthony Nelson will get plenty of snaps along with Parker Hesse, who took advantage of Ott’s absence and developed into a key piece for the Hawkeyes. It would be unfair to say that Ott’s presence is the standard both need to aspire to reach, but doing some Ott-like things would certainly help both of them.
If the quickness and aggressiveness are there already for Matt Nelson, it won’t be long before we start hearing the comparisons to Ott.