Iowa City, Ia. - It’s a question that has been out there all spring, asked by black-and-gold armchair quarterbacks across the state.
So I posed it to Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz earlier this week: In retrospect, do you regret not getting any of your backup quarterbacks a snap in 2012?
“Not really,” Ferentz said. “To me, our focus was winning every game, every situation. I mean, you look around last year, Texas A. and M. did fine with a new quarterback. We played a new quarterback in 2002, 2003 and 2004, and did fine. So that won’t be a reason for us not doing well.”
Ferentz also mentioned the 9-4 team in 2008, when the Hawkeyes “had a pretty good season and had a guy, (Ricky) Stanzi, take over at the end of September (for Jake Christensen).”
James Vandenberg took every snap for the Hawkeyes in a disappointing 4-8 season in 2012. Jake Rudock, Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard, the three quarterbacks trying to replace Vanderberg, have taken zero Division I snaps combined.
Iowa ends spring ball today with a 2 p.m. scrimmage at Kinnick Stadium. It was announced Wednesday that a four-quarter scrimmage would replace the traditional public practice. Which makes me wonder if the change was made to help the coaching staff evaluate the three quarterbacks.
“My guess is we’ll probably go at least halfway through (fall) camp before we really make a final decision on who is going to start the opening ballgame (Aug. 31 vs. Northern Illinois),” Ferentz said. “Because it’s all pretty close right now.”
Texas A&M did fine with freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel last season. Johnny Football averaged 285.1 yards passing and 108.5 yards rushing and won the Heisman Trophy.
Junior college transfer Brad Banks threw 68 passes as a backup to Kyle McCann at Iowa in 2001. The following season, Banks accounted for nearly 3,000 yards as the Hawkeyes’ starting quarterback. He was the Heisman Trophy runner-up and was named the Associated Press national player of the year after leading Iowa to an 11-2 record, a share of the Big Ten title and the Orange Bowl.
Nathan Chandler entered the 2003 season with 20 career Division I passes under his belt. He started every game and passed for 2,040 yards in a 10-3 season that ended with a victory over Florida in the Outback Bowl.
After throwing 11 passes as a backup to Chandler that season, Drew Tate took over the starting job in 2004. The sophomore passed for 2,786 yards, was named the Big Ten offensive player of the year and MVP of the Capital One Bowl after a victory over LSU completed a 10-2 season.
Which brings us back to the three-way race to succeed Vandenberg as Iowa’s starting quarterback. Vandenberg said he’ll really be interested to see what happens.
“They all have different strengths,” Vanderberg said. “That’s something you’ve got to evaluate. Which one fits with what (offensive coordinator Greg) Davis wants in his second year. I’m not totally sure. I think they all have a great chance. Jake’s been there the longest, but Coach Davis has only been there since Cody and C.J. It’s certainly an exciting competition.”
Today’s scrimmage will be the next chance for the three quarterbacks to step front and center. But not the last chance.
“There’s a lot of ways for this to unfold,” Ferentz said. “And, bottom line, we can probably be successful with all three guys. It’s just a matter right now of figuring out what the best equation is.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football