IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The competition for Iowa’s vacant quarterback job will extend into at least next week.
Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said Saturday following a public workout at Kinnick Stadium that junior Tyler Wiegers and sophomore Nathan Stanley will continue to split repetitions with the first team as the coaching staff tries to find a replacement for two-year starter C.J. Beathard.
Stanley moved past Wiegers as a true freshman in 2016, but he doesn’t appear to have distanced himself much during spring or fall camp. Ferentz said that a scrimmage set for Friday could help separate the two, but for now he’s content to let Stanley and Wiegers continue to compete for the starting job.
Iowa opens its season on Sept. 2 at home against Wyoming.
”It’s gone back and forth a little bit,” Ferentz said. ”Both guys have done some good things, and both guys have done some things that they’d like to change, take back. That’s what you’d expect. They’re both gaining ground.”
The passing game is by far the biggest question the Hawkeyes will need to answer in 2017.
Iowa’s wide receiving corps is inexperienced and neither quarterback has shown enough to offer hope that they can help fix an attack that averaged a paltry 153 yards a game – 118th out of 128 FBS teams.
Stanley appears to have the bigger arm, while Wiegers is a more vocal leader. Stanley looked like the more impressive of the two on Saturday, throwing for a pair of long touchdown passes in scrimmage-like drills, but Ferentz insisted that that wasn’t necessarily indicative of how the pair has performed throughout preseason practice.
Sophomore Ryan Boyle is third on the depth chart and freshman Peyton Mansell – who made some impressive plays on Saturday – appears to be in line to redshirt.
”We’re trying to measure the whole body of work,” Ferentz said.
Ferentz also announced on Saturday that graduate transfer receiver Matt Quarells has been cleared to play.
Quarells graduated from New Mexico in just three years and will have two years of eligibility at Iowa. Quarells caught 11 passes last year for the Lobos, who transitioned to a ground-based attack and averaged less than 15 pass attempts a game.
Quarells missed the first two weeks of fall camp. But given Iowa’s lack of depth at receiver, he could find himself in the rotation before long.
”Our good luck was his bad luck. They went to an option attack, so he wanted to go somewhere where he could catch a couple balls,” Ferentz said.
One of the newcomers to stand out in preseason practice has been freshman defensive end A.J. Epenesa, who’ll almost certainly play this fall.
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Epenesa, a five-star recruit and arguably the biggest prep star that Iowa has ever signed under Ferentz, broke through the backfield on a number of occasions during drills on Saturday.
”He’s impressed us. He definitely belongs on the varsity,” Ferentz said. ”He has no idea what he’s doing most of the time right now, but physically he is doing a pretty good job.”
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