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:
Rudock aggravated his sprained left knee (left over from Nebraska). He doesn't think he needs surgery.
— marcmorehouse (@marcmorehouse) January 2, 2014
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.