Jake Rudock, or CJ Beathard? Both Iowa quarterbacks can make a case as to why they should start.


Jonathan House, Reporter

In recent weeks, controversy has swirled around the Iowa football team. Should Kirk Ferentz remain head coach? Should Greg Davis remain offensive coordinator? After the loss to lowly Iowa State at home, I was under the opinion that the team would collapse, fail to make a bowl game, and that Davis and also maybe Ferentz need to go. The national media was doubting Iowa and the entire Big 10, after the conference was 1-10 against other teams from the power conferences, with Iowa contributing a loss in a very winnable game against their in-state rivals at home.

What a difference a week makes. On Saturday, Iowa beat an undefeated Pittsburgh Panthers team in their first road game of the season. All of a sudden, Iowa is 3-1, 1-1 against power conference teams, and there is hope for the rest of the season. However, on Saturday, a new controversy appeared: who should start as quarterback? Junior quarterback Jake Rudock was 8-5 in his first season as a sophomore starting in 2013. Rudock performed well, leading Iowa to the Outback bowl, where they lost to a superior SEC team, the LSU Tigers, 21-14. This was especially impressive considering that in 2012, James Vandenberg struggled mightily, yet Rudock didn’t take a snap in a game, a move that was heavily criticized, and the team finished 4-8.

This is now 2014, and college football has changed. Rudock is now in his second year as starter. He now is 11- 6 as starter in 1 and ⅓ seasons. Pretty good right, wrong. In 2013, Rudock passed for 2383 yards, a completion percentage of 59%, and averaged 6.89 yards per attempted pass, with 18 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions. Beathard had limited playing time in 2013, but honestly, he wasn’t very good. He completed only 33% of his passes, for 179 yards and 1 touchdown, but 2 interceptions.

In 2014, something seems to have changed. The play calling seems boring and incredibly conservative, and Rudock now seems to throw it three yards down field on every. single. play. It is incredibly boring to watch, and it isn’t effective. Iowa’s offense was just downright awful for three and a half games. They struggled against UNI, an FCS school, which Big 10 teams should beat easily, they needed a 4th quarter comeback to beat Ball St- BALL STATE! For the exception of Letterman, almost no one has ever even heard of Muncie, Indiana or Ball State! There was no excuse as to why Iowa struggled, but their offense was simply dreadful. They lost the next week to Iowa State, because they only scored three second half points, and Rudock is to blame. The running game was practically nonexistent, and it became Rudock’s responsibility to find receivers down field and get first downs, but he failed miserably.

Rudock also played against Pittsburgh, but played mediocre then as well, only completing 50% of his passes, with an interception (that wasn’t really his fault) and a touchdown to keep Iowa from being shoutout in the first half. Statistically, he was mediocre, but he probably was overall better than he was in some other games this season. They still trailed 17-7 at halftime, and it was looking like another long day for Hawkeye fans.

When Rudock left due to an injury, all that changed. CJ Beathard came on the field, the backup sophomore from Franklin, Tennessee with “flowing blond locks,” as described by ESPN writer Adam Rittenberg. He was amazing. He was a near flawless 7 of 8 passing and while he didn’t throw any touchdowns or interceptions, he put the rest of the offense in  a position to succeed- something Rudock had failed to do, and something that the quarterback should do in Iowa’s run first offense. They need to run the ball to set up a good pass play every once in a while, something Beathard could accomplish that Rudock couldn’t. This is the main reason why Beathard should start against Purdue. In practice on Tuesday, Beathard played with the first string offense, because Rudock hadn’t been cleared to play, yet he is still listed at the top of the depth chart released Monday. Is it because of his play, or is Rudock really injured?

The interesting thing is that this quarterback controversy is similar to one the team had in 2008. In 2008, Iowa had two qbs, Jake Christensen and Ricky Stanzi. Christensen had been Iowa’s quarterback for the whole previous year. However, he had a worse completion percentage, and the 2007 Iowa Hawkeyes were 6-6, not 8-5 like they were in 2013 in Rudock’s first season. Ricky Stanzi helped put Iowa in the national media, and ended their season with an Orange Bowl victory. Records show that Rudock is better than Jake Christensen, but is CJ Beathard the next Ricky Stanzi? He may be, he may not be, but the only way we will find out is if Captain Kirk starts him or puts him in for extended periods of time, and unfortunately no one can control that, except for Davis and Ferentz.