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Jake Rudock having impressive spring as Iowa tweaks offense

[ 0 ] April 23, 2014 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. – There is no quarterback controversy at Iowa, and that’s no surprise.

Jake Rudock remains a solid No. 1 entering Saturday’s spring game at Kinnick Stadium, leading what should be an improved offense that’ll have a few more wrinkles than it did a season ago.

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“First of all, he has a great understanding of everything that is going on,” Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis said Wednesday. “Nothing rattles him. He handles himself as a quarterback, and he can make all the throws. He’s just got more experience.”

Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock throws during the Hawkeyes' open practice at Valley Stadium on April 12. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register)

Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock throws during the Hawkeyes’ open practice at Valley Stadium on April 12. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register)

Last summer, Rudock emerged from a three-man quarterback competition and started all 13 games, passing for 2,383 yards, 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. C.J. Beathard saw action in five games, three times after Rudock left with a knee injury. Cody Sokol never played and transferred to Louisiana Tech.

“We’re really pleased with C.J.,” Davis said. “He’s doing a good job. But we’re real pleased with Jake, too. Jake’s an extremely bright guy. He’s gifted. I just feel fortunate we have two quarterbacks who can go in and play.”

Rudock said he feels he has a much better grasp of the offense, which returns eight starters from an 8-5 team, with a season under his belt.

“I think we’ve all gotten more comfortable with the offense,” Rudock said. “We all understand it better. Things like route depth. Sometimes it’s supposed to be a 12-yard route. We’d accidently run it eight yards or nine yards, and that makes a big difference. Now there’s really no excuses to make mental mistakes. We should know better.”

Davis said there have been some tweaks added to the offense, from adding more gap scheme to its zone running attack to changing some route concepts.

One major area of emphasis this spring has been improving production in the red zone.

Last season, Iowa had nine first-and-goal situations from the 3-yard-line or closer and scored touchdowns on all nine.

But in nine opportunities with first-and-goals between the 7- and 9-yard lines, the Hawkeyes scored touchdowns just five times.

“That’s not good enough,” Davis said. “This spring, we’ve been working to find the best possible way to get the ball in the end zone.”

Rudock said there was no single reason for the lack of efficiency inside the 10 last season.

“The fact is, we just didn’t get it done,” Rudock said. “It might be a multitude of reasons. We have to work to get better at it.”

Tackle Brandon Scherff said the troubles started in the offensive line.

“One person may not be on the same page as everyone else,” Scherff said. “But it’s something you can fix. Everyone is doing a better job. But we can always improve.”

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Iowa increased its average plays per game last season, from 66.1 to 71.1. Davis would like to see that increase. He said the team is more polished in the ways of the no-huddle offense, and better prepared for more of an up-tempo attack.

Iowa ran the ball 59.7 percent of the time last season. Davis said in a perfect world, his offense would be a 55-percent run, 45-percent pass balance.

“Every game is different,” Davis said. “And we’ll continue to try and be a team, as we grow the passing game, that can beat you either way.”

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Iowa has depth again at running back. And Davis said the competition at the receiver spots is much greater than it was as recently as two seasons ago. Two players who have stepped up are sophomore Matt VandeBerg and redshirt freshman Derrick Willies.

“Derrick is playing with a lot more confidence,” Davis said. “Matt is a guy who can play more than one spot.”

Depth in the line is the area of biggest concern on the offensive side of the ball, Davis said.

“We lost two really good players in Brett Van Sloten and Conor Boffeli,” Davis said. “I think the first group has come on pretty well this spring, but I’m a little concerned with depth.”

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Category: 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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