Quarterback is arguably the most important position on a football team. Quarterback play can either make or break the season as the fans have seen in the past with Kirk Ferentz’s Iowa football teams. They don’t have to carry the offense by themselves, but they have to do enough to put the team in a position to win and not make mistakes. This preview will look at the most critical position: the quarterback.
Jake Rudock (#15, Junior (RS), 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, St. Thomas Aquinas HS (Weston, Fla.))
Rudock is the incumbent starter at quarterback for the Hawkeyes, returning after a successful season as a redshirt sophomore. Last season, practice started with a heated quarterback competition as Rudock had to wait until August 23rd, only 8 days before the first game of the season, before officially being named the starting quarterback. This season Ferentz put Rudock at the top of the depth chart from the very start and made it clear that Rudock is their main guy.
As expected, Rudock went through some up and downs in his first year starting. He had 18 passing touchdowns which is a huge improvement on the 7 total Iowa had the year before with James Vandenberg at the helm. Rudock also had 13 interceptions, a number that he will really have to cut down. Rudock also showed some mobility with 5 rushing touchdowns.
The magic number with Rudock is 60. When Rudock had a higher completion percentage than 60 percent, Iowa was 8-0. When he completed less than 50 percent, Iowa was 0-5. Overall, when I look at Rudock’s total numbers: 2,383 yards, 59 percent completion rate, and an 18 to 13 touchdown to interception rate, I’m not that impressed. But keep in mind that Rudock’s numbers would probably be better if he wasn’t hampered by an ankle injury that he sustained in the middle of the year. That injury forced him to miss parts of games in the second half of the season and allowed his backup, C.J. Beathard to show what he can do.
Expect another solid season as quarterback for the junior. Rudock won’t have huge numbers that will blow anyone away, but he will (hopefully) have very efficient stats. Iowa will look to dominate their opponents with their running game but keep them honest enough with a solid passing game. If Rudock can keep his completion percentages up and cut down on the interceptions we will probably be looking at a very successful season for not only Rudock, but for the whole football team.
C.J. Beathard (#16, Sophomore (RS), 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Battle Ground Academy (Franklin, Tenn.))
The backup quarterback can be quite the polarizing player, with half the fan base thinking that he is better than the current starter and the other half sticking with the incumbent. With C.J. Beathard, some people think that he has a higher ceiling than Rudock and therefore should be starting. He has shown flashes of the rocket arm he has with an average of 20 yards per completion, albeit with a small sample size of 9 of 27 for 179 yards. He also outperformed Rudock in the bowl game last year which prompted some people believe that he should be the starter next year.
Beathard showed how much he improved with a great spring game. Beathard went 21 of 39 for 349 yards and a touchdown. He showed poise in the pocket and didn’t only rely on his deep ball but worked the in the short and intermediate routes as well. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis said after that they are working on some special packages with Beathard to get him on the field some more and give him some experience. If so, that will be an interesting development to keep your eyes on as he has shown he can make a difference with both his legs and his big arm.
Nic Shimonek (#9, Freshman (RS), 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Mildred HS (Corsicana, Tex.))
Nic Shimonek hasn’t seen much time behind the two proven quarterbacks before him but Davis said that his improvement is showing every day. At 6-foot-4, Shimonek has good height but probably needs to put on a little more weight before he is ready to take hits from Big Ten defensive linemen. He was the first quarterback recruited by Greg Davis but it won’t be surprising if he never sees much of the field as a highly regarded recruit is coming onto campus this summer.
Tyler Wiegers (Freshman, 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, Detroit Country Day (Franklin, Mich.))
Tyler Wiegers was committed to Rutgers for most of the recruiting process, but in December he changed his mind and committed to Ferentz and the Hawkeyes. Wiegers is a typical Ferentz quarterback: good height, pocket presence, and a solid arm. He has all the tools Ferentz looks in a quarterback and hopefully he will develop into a great quarterback because as of right now, it is all just speculation. He needs to get bigger as right now- 195 pounds does not cut it for a pocket quarterback in the Big Ten. He also has to learn the playbook and get used to college football. But he theoretically has at least 2, probably 3 years, before he will see the field in any meaningful action.