Randy Peterson of The Des Moines Register answers five questions from fans.
What are the odds that backup quarterback Jake Rudock plays in Saturday’s game at Northwestern?
That’s highly unlikely – unless something happens to starter James Vandenberg. While there are many fans who wonder why Rudock, a redshirt freshman, hasn’t yet played, it’s not coach Kirk Ferentz’ M.O. He sticks with starters – to a fault, some fans believe.
It seems as if a 38-0 fourth-quarter deficit against Penn State last Saturday would have been an ideal opportunity for Rudock to see his first collegiate action, but Ferentz continued with Vandenberg, a senior team leader. It’s not like Rudock and Vandenberg are competitively close; they’re not, otherwise, Rudock would have played by now.
Ferentz has been asked repeatedly why he didn’t switch quarterbacks, and repeatedly he offered no specific answer.
“When we shuffled guys in in 2008, it was kind of back and forth (between Jake Christensen and Ricky Stanzi), the competition was really close,” Ferentz said.”Right now, James is our quarterback.”
Ferentz is all right with entering next season with a quarterback who hasn’t taken a collegiate snap.
So in case he does play Saturday at Northwestern, what kind of quarterback is Jake Rudock?
The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder from Florida won’t be confused with versatile quarterbacks like Braxton Miller of Ohio State or Michigan’s Denard Robinson. He’s more Vandenberg than Northwestern’s do-everything Kain Colter.
“Jake’s a great guy,” Vandenberg said this week. “A really intelligent guy. I wouldn’t say he’s a spread-option guy. Our styles would be pretty similar.”
Here’s how Ferentz described him: “He’s got the potential to be a good quarterback. He’s a good thrower with good command and works extremely hard. He’s a lot like James Vandenberg in my mind. He’s got all the characteristics that give a guy a chance to be a good player. He throws the ball well.”
How will Vandenberg handle playing without his left tackle security blanket, Brandon Scherff?
Aside from center James Ferentz, Scherff (broken leg) was the most significant lineman. As left tackle, he protects Vandenberg’s blind side, and is a big factor in successful Mark Weisman runs behind that side of the line.
Either Nolan MacMillan or Matt Tobin will fill that role, however neither has started a game there this season.
“(Vandenberg) just has to play,” Ferentz said. “He can’t worry about who’s playing. He’s got plenty on his plate than to worry about who’s playing left tackle. It’s like anything, if the pocket breaks down, you have to improvise or whatever. We had plenty of breakdowns the other night before the injuries.”
Regardless, Vandenberg faces a defense that has allowed an average of 279.8 passing yards a game, worst in the Big Ten. He’ll also throw against a secondary that has been stuck with injuries.
Whose offense goes quicker, Northwestern’s or Penn State’s?
Statistically, Penn State’s NASCAR, quick-tempo attack results in an average of 79.0 plays a game. Northwestern, which spreads its offense, averages 74.6 plays each game. They’re 2-3 in the Big Ten, behind Indiana’s average of 80.4. So by early November, Iowa will have played the conference’s most ambitious offenses. Comparatively, the Hawkeyes average 65.9 plays a game.
What is tailback Mark Weisman’s status report?
Iowa’s top rusher with 640 yards on 105 carries will play more than he did last Saturday against Penn State – unless re-injures his once-sprained right ankle. It was evident during pre-game warmup last Saturday that he didn’t have the normal first-step thrust he had when healthy, and that’s why he carried the ball just five times for nine yards.
“It’s been feeling a little better every day,” Weisman said Tuesday. “I’ll probably not know anything for sure until warmups again.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football