2014 Football: A Quarterback Thing?

The 2013 season has just come to an end but there are a few things running through my mind as I think about next season. Here is the first of many we’ll discuss this month.

QUARTERBACK CONVERSATIONS: I certainly don’t want to say there is a quarterback controversy because I don’t think there is right now. But there could be a quarterback something by the time spring is done. Jake Rudock has done nothing wrong or no harm to have the job taken away from him, but I also think CJ Beatherd is going to keep getting a great deal better and could be poised for an exponential leap. He has the bigger arm, but that doesn’t mean he is the better option. Right now, he also has the better legs which could be the thing that makes this a thing; will Jake Rudock require some type of surgery on his knee(s) this out of season?

It was something I wondered about the month leading up to the game and after watching him run around on the field Wednesday, I thought about it more. I am not a doctor and could be wrong, but it looks like he has some damage in there that could require some repair…I am not saying major reconstructive surgery, but perhaps something to go in there and clean things up. If that causes him to miss any time this spring or puts him at less than 100 percent, Beatherd is going to be right there to take those reps and would benefit greatly.

There is this, from the Outback postgame:

In this item from The Gazette after the bowl game, Beatherd even mentions the competition this spring when asked: ““From what I hear it is,” said Beathard, when asked about the prospect of an open QB competition this spring. “We’ll see.”

We’ll see how things unfold.

If Rudock doesn’t need surgery, you have to think that CJ is still going to get a good number or reps. Kirk Ferentz says it every year; every position is open for debate. Some are more open and shut than others, which is why you’d hear Ferentz say ‘If someone beats out Brandon Scherff, that’s a Scherff problem.’ or something to that effect. I admire the season Rudock just put forth, one of the best by a sophomore quarterback in Iowa history. He’s the starting quarterback for the Iowa Hawkeyes until he’s not.

On the Learfield postgame radio show, Gary Dolphin and Ed Podolak were talking about this subject. Dolph said that there would be a battle between the two this spring and then Podolak echoed the same an brought up the surgery angle, too.

I’m not trying to start a fire where there is none. I am not a fan of such controversy, but the fact of the matter is Iowa has two quarterbacks who look to have the ability to succeed in this offense and one of them is going to get that extra year in the program at the crucial age where he can grow by leaps and bounds (Beatherd). The other (Rudock) just went 8-5 as a starter with three road wins and a 5-3 record in Big Ten play. He’s the starter until he’s beaten out.

For me, this is about what it will take to exceed eight or nine wins next year. I think those totals are likely attainable but Iowa has the schedule to do better than that. On the whole, they have the personnel returning to do better than that combined with that slate. Some are going to take these thoughts as being ‘spoiled’ or not being ‘satisfied’.

I guess I’d point to the Wisconsin Badgers. Over the past five or six years, when they’ve had expectations and been set up to advance the program, they’ve done it. It’s why their program would be more highly regarded than Iowa’s right now where six or seven years ago, it wouldn’t have been. Did they benefit by Ohio State and Penn State’s sanctions in the Leaders Division? Yes. Still, they made it to three straight Rose Bowls and they didn’t do that by finishing a regular season 7-5 when they began the year ranked in the Top 15, as Iowa did in 2010 and 2005.

Wisconsin seized the moment where the moment proved to be too big for the Iowa program. I don’t like typing that but it’s simply the reality.

Iowa has a pretty big opportunity to advance the program next year. The brand new football facility will be completed this summer. It will be state of the art but also in line with what the rest of the ‘have’s’ in the league are using these days. They are coming off a New Year’s Day bowl appearance and should start the season ranked in the Top 25.

Iowa has to take advantage of this set up. For Kirk Ferentz, he’ll be entering his 16th year as Iowa’s head coach. This ‘might’ be one of his last best chances at filling that last remaining line on his personal resume; a Rose Bowl appearance.

I realize this may be a lot to digest for some, but take a look at the schedule again and consider the talent that Iowa returns on offense and the defensive line and backfield.

Iowa is going to have a chance next year to reassert itself into the national football psyche and perhaps in a big, big way. The Hawkeyes are going to need their best playmakers on the field and it starts with this position.  Whether that is Jake Rudock or CJ Beatherd will be up for the coaches to decide, but I suspect Beatherd is going to get a chance at the job, just like every other position on the team is open for competition.   Except left tackle…that one really is closed.

  • louie

    Rudock missed 2 tds in game.1 to powell , 1 to cjfed{at least to 5}critical miss.I would like to see both QBs get a chance next year first 2 games.I think Beathard has way more upside ,and gives us more versatility.That said,I would transfer if i were Beathard, because he’s to good to sit on the bench the next 2 years.If you’re so stubborn to play the worst QB in the nation every snap you’re definitely to stubborn to give Beathard a fair shot.Thing is, it happens at every position .On a different subject.If Nico Law were playing- and he drops the ball at the 1 yd line for no reason- he would be kicked off the team.Dumbest thing I have ever seen an Iowa player do.

    • Josh

      Did I just read this correct? Did you just say Rudock is the worst QB in the nation? A couple guys in Ames may have an arguement as worse. I certainly would not fault Beatherd for transferring if he decided to, but also I think there’s not reason he couldn’t win the starting spot either. We have 2 very good options at QB going into next season and even with this little blip of a bowl loss, I am supremely excited.

  • mark

    Josh I think he was referring to James Vandenberg getting all the snaps in the 4-8 season.

    • Josh

      now that makes WAY more sense. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t incorrect. I still blame the system for much of JVB’s issues, but that’s in the past and future looks great again

  • GP

    To be a fly on the wall when spring ball starts up……. It’s pretty clear that Beathard has the better physical tools of the two. I even think he has the accuracy advantage on Rudock. Jake missed a couple big throws that were very completable the deep ball to Powell that he either threw late or under threw and the one to CJF he over threw inside the 10 yrd line that would have made that game different down the stretch for sure. Now what none of us know is how Beathard is in regards to the cerebral part of the game compared to Rudock. I don’t think he has to be as smart as Rudock to earn the job. He just has to be the overall better player. Ferentz isn’t one to have a quick trigger on changing qbs we all know that. So this would be a pretty interesting situation if it plays out that Beathard gets the job coming out of spring ball or even August camp.

  • Thomas Wenndt

    Sorry folks. Beathard is light years behind Jake in terms of reading defenses, having the instinct in terms of all the little things QB’s need to do and see. And Beathard has made few good decisions when the onus is put on him. I was impressed by him yesterday for exactly one play – the TD throw to KMM. But only because, from what I’ve seen, 4 times out of 5, he doesn’t complete that either.

    I fully agree Jake needs to get better arm strength. And if we are going to play CJB, we have GOT to start calling more plays that play to his strengths, and not just keep calling the exact same plays (read option, Greg Davis???). And it remains to be seen how much the two will mature, learn and grow in the off-season now that they each have a season behind them.

    But unless Jake becomes like the last Jake and actually starts regressing as a QB, while we might adopt a 2-QB system and give CJB some reps every game, I don’t see CJB coming even close to starting … unless an injury… (hate talking about that stuff).

    • HNStaff

      Thomas, I agree with the pocket presence observations. Jake had an uncanny knack there from the start…he has a feel that Beatherd has not shown.

    • westsidebill

      Thomas:

      Pocket presence is lacking for Beathard at this point, but so is his lack of facing a live pass rush (playing time). To simply dismiss him as “light years behind” in reading defenses and such = how do you know that, or does anyone outside the coaches? Outside of WMU and Nebraska, CJB walked into virtual sh–storms, cold and off the bench, being forced to lead a team from behind to victory. That’s not even close to a fair comparison.

      As for arm strength: it it what it is, and Rudock’s is clearly limited. That was obvious the colder the weather got, and this fall wasn’t even a “nasty” weather season. Beathard’s arm is stronger and has a quicker release; throw in health (Rudock’s been banged up since Wisky) and the race isn’t so far apart anymore. Believe it or not, Rudock NEEDS to be able to at least threaten to run, or else defenses will continue to tee off on him while manning up on all his WR’s.

      So we’ll see if there’s a true competition for the QB position this spring, or if we’ll be keeping the status quo. And if it’s truly open, I won’t be shocked to see Shimonek raise some eyebrows too….

    • FBletterman

      Thomas I don’t agree, you put way to much on the mental side of this game. We just had two Freshman QBs win the Heisman the last two years and I guarantee you they are not the smartest players in college FB not to mention our offense is light years less complicated than FSU and Texas AM. What they have is a tremendous skill set and confidence in there abilities. I for one think our offense has more upside with CJ.

      • Coach W

        You are comparing 2 phenomenal players with the rest of College Football freshman in the history of College Football. That doesn’t make much sense…

        • Fbletterman

          Haha, I knew one of you would hide behind that answer. There are at least 40 Freshman and Sophomore’s QBs starting D1 this season. I picked two of the best. Despite your dodge my premise is correct. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least CJ would step in and out performed Jake because of superior athletic talents’.

    • Coach W

      Good points. Rudock was made starter for a reason, and I think most of us can see why. However, I also agree the CJB has some strengths that Rudock doesn’t have and they should be utilized. Ex: arm strength, speed. Why not have a couple of packages/plays for CJB to run some zone read and some pa pass off of it?? Take advantage of the kids talents!

  • Dream Big

    Rudock may be a great pediatrician. He may have a large brain. But he’s an adequate Big Ten QB, and he has little room for growth. The Iowa “offense” was “better” this year mostly because it was so pathetic last year. Rudock was a big improvement over Vandenberg because he was so awful last year.

    But I’m an idiot, so maybe ask Ed Podolak, who has said on the air that Beathard “will be a starting QB in college somewhere” and that CJ “has a quick release and arm that remind me of Joe Namath.” No such comparisons are being made by anyone in relation to JR.

    Or you could ask the head coach of the Big Ten and Rose Bowl champions. Dantonio may be a lot of things, but he was fair to his QBs by giving both of them a chance–IN GAMES–before deciding on a full-time starter in time for the Big Ten season. The winner was the new guy. The veteran was assigned to the bench. The result? Not so bad.

    Iowa’s 2014 schedule gives it the opportunity to do what MSU did this year, but with KF and GD running the offense–which, in reality, BTW, never really scored a point against LSU (special teams and defense, ya know)–it’s difficult to imagine how it would happen.

    Dantonio’s final words last night at the Rose Bowl were, “Dream Big.” Can KF do that? The evidence, sadly, is not at all encouraging.

    And one final thing: What, exactly, were all those great plays that Rudock audibled into this year? I must have missed them, unless you mean like the Weisman stretch left on 4th and 1 against Wisconsin that lost 3 yards–stuff like that.

    Anybody who thinks you have to be pre-med to run the Iowa offense is either GD or naive…or both.

    Give me Beathard next season. I dream big. I dream of running the table against the weakest schedule Iowa has ever faced. I dream of Iowa playing in the 101st Rose Bowl as one of the four playoff teams next season. Meanwhile, KF and GD, I fear, are dreaming of nipping UNI in the opener and hoping for the best.

    • hawkeyebabe

      Yes I’m not the only one dreaming big. I’m rooting for 2015 Pasadena also. With our schedule it’s a must. I hope KF isn’t stubborn about this. It was a mistake last year to have JVB take all snaps. I’m proud that CJB has some experience now. Also the fact he got KMM in the endzone has to mean something considering JR didn’t make any TDs. Yes his knees were also screwed so that was a factor. I really want to see CJB next season too. He is capable of a lot and I agree you ddon’t have to be super smart, BUT he does need to spend more time with the play book and read options and studying defenses. I liked the fact that he wasn’t panicking out there like I noticed during the MSU game and part of the Neb game (til he ran a bootleg and scored on Neb fragile defense). He seemed confident. He made throws that receivers shouldve had while JR underthrew or wide left… hoping we at least switch out qbs a couple times during games.

      • HNStaff

        “The former UCLA and NBA star center, Bill Walton, has often said, “Talent can gain experience. Experience cannot gain talent.” that’s just brilliant right there.

        • Grady

          However, talent does not always improve with experience and this is especially true for QBs. For example, some QBs have a talent for being exceptionally accurate…others never develop that accuracy even tho they may have a great arm. Iowa has to be careful in this area — they are not an offensive team that can afford to waste downs with inaccurate passes or take an unnecessary sack. Perhaps Rudock’s greatest skill is his instinctual knack of when to leave the pocket and avoid negative plays.

  • Talent vs Experience

    The former UCLA and NBA star center, Bill Walton, has often said, “Talent can gain experience. Experience cannot gain talent.” And that observation seems relevant in considering Beathard and Rudock. Using that standard, Beathard should be the QB next season. Jake would be a great backup and Beathard would have the talent and gain the experience to lead Iowa to the Big Ten title and the four-team playoffs. Iowa will never be more than mediocre–like this year–with Jake at QB.

  • RBs and WRs

    Beathard at QB. Daniels and Canzeri at RB with token spot appearances by Weisman, who should return to FB. I love the kid, but the evidence is clear: He IS a FB. Iowa cannot beat good defenses featuring Weisman. See MSU, LSU, Ohio State et al.

    Bullock returns to WR. He is not, and never was, an RB. Feature Duzey and Kittle and the other TEs. Throw over the middle. Remember that #22 is available and fast. I believe his name is Damond Powell. And with Beathard at QB, Powell won’t have to worry about outrunning the QB’s arm.

    Iowa needs to make many personnel adjustments on offense if it is to score the points necessary to be a top program. And somebody might tell Kirk that, sometimes at least, the best defense is an offense that scores multiple TDs.

    The LBs? Don’t worry. As I’ve noted before, Iowa had the same LBs last year, but nobody was too impressed because the DL was weak. Strong DL this year, awesome LBs. An even better DL next year will allow the new LBs to do just fine.

    No excuses for the Hawkeyes. Iowa should win a minimum of 10 games next year–and 10-2 would be a huge disappointment.

    • Alex Johnson

      This is spot on. Especially the O position changes. Bullock/Powell in slot, Hillyer/Smith out wide, Duzey, Hamilton starting TE with HKC and Kittle coming in on 3TE sets. Duzey really should play full-blown Joker in the offense if we know squat about formations and personnel packages.

      For some reason I feel like Brian Ferentz would have the guts to make these moves as OC, and tell his dad off when he goes old-geezer, and gets stuck in his ways on things. Truthfully, Ferentz has been flexible when talent allows – we have some talent to move around now. Would Davis be that creative? Ha. He just wants to throw a bubble screen, roll over, and dream about his next game of 300 total yards of offense.

      • Alex Johnson

        This presumes that Hillyer and Smith learn enough of the O to take the next step. They are far and away the most physically gifted WRs on the roster that have played a snap.

    • Coach W

      I agree with you on most points but 10-2 a huge disappointment? 10-2 is NEVER a disappointment for Iowa football.

  • Ryan

    I liked what CJ did yesterday. But does anyone on here really think he will get a shot. I think their is something to that postgame from KF complaining that CJ was supposed to take a knee and he ran a bootleg instead. What is the word around IC about the Shimonek kid? Does being a GD guy work against him? Just questions I ask, but in reality I think people need to come to realize that Rudock is the QB for the next two years. It could be worse… remember when McCann was the starter even though everyone in the state knew it should be Banks. That isn’t the case now. It is nowhere near that cut and dry with these two.

    • GP

      I’m surprised as many people seem to think Banks should have started his jr yr. He wasn’t ready to play that yr. He hardly had a grasp on the small package of plays they had for him then. He would not have been very good that year at all. Sure he could scramble around but h I thought that year he was behind Chandler not McCann I could be remembering that wrong though. It’s cut and dry that Beathard is the better athlete and has the better arm. It’s if he can run the offense and play smart that is up for argument. We don’t know how they practice and there’s only one way to know how they perform in games and so far Beathards sample size is really small.

      • Ryan

        I realize Banks obviously had a limited playbook knowledge but it was quite obvious that banks moved the ball much better and had the knack for playmaking that he ended up displaying in 02. It is to this day the most boobirds i have ever heard in Kinnick whenever McCann would come in. McCann too was a safe choice and a solid qb but Banks got s$&t done at a much more consistent rate than what limited play I have seen from CJ. CJ though, has not got as much of a chance to prove himself as Banks was allowed. I was mostly referring to the fact that Jake is the most obvious safe choice for KF. KF likes safe and conservative. Beathard has obvious intangibles that Jake doesn’t. I get it. I, like everyone else would like to see CJ get more reps in some of the early schedule next year. I would also argue that the bowl game was one of Jake’s worst games. I think alot of guys would struggle against LSU’s D, and most did. I know KF is safe and conservative and frustrating but after this season I may actually put a sock in it about criticizing him for being so.

  • Steven Dailey

    I’m relatively confident that Beathard would already be the starter if Rudock and he were in the same class. He simply has the better tools. You watch Connor Cook, who is a good, but not star QB, and see that arm strength. Throwing frozen ropes 20-30 yards on crossing patters. He made more than half a dozen plays against Stanford that Rudock just wouldn’t have been able to make. I like Jake. He’s easy too root for and isn’t without ability but you wonder how high he can take the team. Especially in games against quality defenses. That said, Iowa’s offensive problems I think were about 50-50 talent and coaching yesterday, Have to have more formations and play schemes. Way too predictable. KF said in his halftime comments, “we have to be ourselves”. Maybe, offensively being “ourselves” when we’ve largely struggled in the post post-Banks era is the problem. Take a look at the different formations MSU ran yesterday. They aren’t replete with talented studs but made plays all over the field because they were difficult to predict and they put their players in positions to succeed. Having just two or three set plays for Beathard on that 4th and short was ridicoulous. LSU’s DC John Chavis and LSU defensive players had “the waggle” figured out before the snap; Adapt or perish. Good coordinators are killing us,

    • HNStaff

      If only Iowa ran crossing patterns ;)

      • westsidebill

        Fancy, fancy, fancy….

    • Ryan

      I would argue that MSU has playmakers on offense. Those recievers started making some great plays this year once they got over the fact that the ball was being thrown within a catchable range. Cook caught on and got more accurate right around the Iowa game. Probably from actual reps in a game?

  • louie

    Every position is open for competition is the biggest joke of all when it comes to ferentz.You could go to the 2 deeps from bowl game right now and name all 22 starters for next season.it’s been that way every year.Once you start you always start even if somebody comes in that’s better than you.Beathard has absolutely no chance to be the stating QB even though he has every right to be given a chance at the job.That’s why Iowa football never goes to the next level under Ferentz.You just have to accept it and move on.

  • Dan Brockett

    I don’t think this is a topic if not for Rudock hurting his knees. I think his weak base effected his throws. I’m more interested to see Powell get much more playing time (is it the play book holding him back? Blocking?), and someone other than Weisman handle the main load at running back.

    Why? I think Powell opens up guys like KMM in the slot, the TEs underneath, and the running game. Beyond that, I haven seen anyone consistently prevent him from getting open on go routes. We need him.

    Weisman, simply, plays really, really well against mediocre defenses. Against good defenses, he hasn’t shown much, this year or last. He’s a FB that can run.

    • westsidebill

      Dan, you’re correct about his base; however, his arm is as strong as it’s going to get = and it’s sub-par for a D-I quarterback. He’s a terrific kid and obviously smart with him being pre-med (drink!). However, I don’t see his ceiling being as high as Beathard’s, so if they are as close as they seem to be now then I hope there’s truly an open competition for QB. Rudock is a nice QB but he’s clearly not as physically gifted as Beathard – so as long as Beathard’s close on the mental side I believe he offers more in the long run.

      • Dan Brockett

        His arm looked just fine – strong at times – before his injury. The only time it looked weak was in bad wind. I think there’s a juvenile tendency to focus on speed and arm strength. Rudock made all the throws required of him in the first half of 2013 and made far better decisions than Beathard has. And he’s responded well to diversity. – we have no idea how Beathard would respond. The truth is, people are fascinated by what’s in the mystery box.

      • Dan Brockett

        Drew Brees has been a much better QB than Jeff George ever was. Steve Young was a better QB than Daunte Culpepper or JaMarcus Russell. The “ceiling” for a QB 1. only matters if you reach it and 2. relies less on raw physical skills and more on what goes on between the ears (and accuracy, which Rudock has and which we haven’t seen from Beathard).

  • Bob

    Wow, numerous times I have heard people complain that Jake over threw the receiver again! Guess all of you questioning his arm strength forgot that.

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