I’m not asking for much from the Iowa football team in regard to Saturday’s open practice at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines.
Just show me a willingness and the ability to throw downfield now that fan favorite C.J. Beathard is playing quarterback.
Show me linebackers who can shed blockers, tackle in space and defend against the pass.
Show me running backs who can hit the hole quickly and make defenders miss in space every now and then.
Show me an offensive line that asserts its will and pushes the pile forward more times than not.
Show me receivers who can do something after the catch.
Show me tight ends who can block in the trenches and catch passes.
Show me defensive linemen who can shed blocks, clog running lanes and pressure the quarterback with some regularity.
Show me defensive backs who can cover receivers, tackle in space and make an occasional interception.
Show me a kicker who is comfortable making field goals from 50 yards and within.
And show me at least one punter who is good enough to not be a liability in terms of field position.
That’s it. That’s all I’m asking for at this stage.
It might seem like a long and unreasonable list, but everything I mentioned is part of being a good football team.
Iowa struggled with many of those things last fall and that’s why a season that was filled with so much early promise in 2014 turned into a 7-6 letdown.
One spring practice won’t be enough to know for sure what Iowa has in terms of talent and potential.
But it will be enough to see if Iowa has a pulse and if the younger players, including new backup quarterback Tyler Wiegers, are developing.
Saturday’s practice also will help check the mood of the fans, whose frustration is climbing after last season’s disappointment. I would expect the turnout to be similar to the previous two open practices at Valley Stadium.
But you never know. Apathy is hard to predict before it happens.
The current Iowa team is not without talent, but the good often gets overshadowed by the bad during tough times, and understandably so.
Saturday’s open practice will be a success if nobody gets injured, if the stadium isn’t close to being empty and if there are more vertical passes thrown than horizontal.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz will undoubtedly say afterwards that the players are working hard and that the team is progressing, but still has a ways to go. Every coach, even Alabama’s Nick Saban, says that during spring practice because it’s the truth.
Spring isn’t about winning or losing games. It’s about getting better individually and as a team. And we know that Iowa certainly has room for that.