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How game action will shape the Hawkeyes' starting quarterback race

[ 0 ] August 20, 2013 |
The situation remains fluid and no starter has been named yet, but it appears that Jake Rudock, left, and C.J. Beathard, right, have emerged as the Nos. 1 and 2 options at quarterback for the Hawkeyes this season. (Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

The situation remains fluid and no starter has been named yet, but it appears that Jake Rudock, left, and C.J. Beathard, right, have emerged as the Nos. 1 and 2 options at quarterback for the Hawkeyes this season. (Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Jake Rudock has emerged as Iowa’s No. 1 quarterback, though coach Kirk Ferentz wants to let the race run out a little longer before officially naming his starter for the Aug. 31 opener against Northern Illinois at Kinnick Stadium.

C.J. Beathard has moved to No. 2, ahead of Cody Sokol. But the juggling of quarterbacks may not be over. It took four games for Ricky Stanzi to unseat Jake Christensen in 2008. And Chuck Hartlieb moved from No. 3 to starter during a three-man race in 1987.

“That’s the good thing about guys who haven’t played,” Ferentz said. “They’ve got a bigger window to improve and whoever starts, the next guy is just one play away from being ready.”

Game action will ultimately determine Iowa’s starting quarterback.

“Live action tells you about who stands in and makes the throw into the teeth of the rush, who knows when to leave the pocket and make extra yardage,” said Greg Davis, Iowa’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. “And you just can’t tell that until they’re live.”

When he was coaching at Texas, Davis faced a similar situation in 2006. Jevan Snead won the job in fall camp and started the season opener, with Colt McCoy his backup.

“Well, two games into the season it became obvious Colt was the guy,” Davis said. “But no one could have told you that until it became live.”

Ferentz feels comfortable with all three of his quarterbacks, both in the air and on the ground.

“None of them are (Robert Griffin III). Let’s be clear about that. Not many guys are,” Ferentz said. “But I think they’re capable, and they’re nifty. It’s just a matter of how much you want to integrate that into what you do.”

THE QUARTERBACKS

Jake Rudock (6-3, 205, soph.) is a cerebral quarterback. “He’s an extremely bright guy,” Davis said. “He’ll probably be a doctor or something. He takes courses I can’t even spell. He understands what we’re trying to get done.”

Rudock, who quarterbacked St. Thomas Aquinas of Weston, Fla., to a 29-1 record his final two seasons and is a microbiology/pre-medicine major, doesn’t mind being labeled a thinking man’s quarterback. “I like the cerebral part of the game,” Rudock said. “Seeing the little details can be very important. Throwing the ball a split-second earlier when the guy hasn’t even turned his head, that makes a huge difference.”

C.J. Beathard (6-2, 195, fr.) is in his second season in the program. “C.J. has a really quick arm,” Davis said. “The ball comes out quickly. That’s a huge advantage for a quarterback.”

Beathard is confident in his abilities to run and pass. He said the three-way competition is a positive for the team as a whole. “It brings out the best in each and every one of us,” Beathard said.

Cody Sokol (6-2, 215, jr.) does have two years of junior college experience at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. “I don’t know that it gives him any experience because he was in a different system, and this is a different style of play,” Davis said.

Sokol, a second-team juco all-American who redshirted at Iowa last season, considers himself versatile. “I’ve always heard that I’m more of a pocket passer,” Sokol said. “One of those guys who is going to stay in the pocket and deliver the ball at the last second. But since I’ve come here I’m a little more versatile, being able to run the ball. It’s our job to extend the play.”

Nic Shimonek (6-4, 196, fr.) will likely redshirt this season. He came in with some lofty credentials — 2,714 passing yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior at Mildred High School in Corsicana, Texas — and has opened some eyes in fall camp. “I think he’ll be right in the mix pretty quick,” Davis said.

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Category: Big Ten, Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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