March 31, 2013

Spring Outlook: QB

With the graduation of James Vandenberg following the 2012 season, the best way to describe Iowa's situation at quarterback is with two words: wide open. Jake Rudock, Cody Sokol, and C.J. Beathard are all receiving equal reps with the first unit this spring as the Hawkeyes try to find the signal caller that will lead the offense in 2013. We take a look at the quarterback race this spring.

Starters Lost: James Vandenberg

Starters returning: None

Spring Two Deeps: Jake Rudock, Cody Sokol/C.J. Beathard

The Numbers: None of Iowa's three quarterbacks have thrown a pass at the D1 level. Sokol threw for over 3,800 yards at Scottsdale Junior College and redshirted in his first year on the Iowa campus. Last season Vandenberg threw for 2,249 yards and 7 touchdowns.

The Overview

I guess you could safely say that none of the three contenders for the starting quarterback position this spring have had any negative experiences at this level on the field of play. The list of D1 schools that played only one quarterback last season is a short one and it's led by Iowa. James Vandenberg played very snap under center for the Hawkeyes in 2012, so whoever ends up winning the job this spring or in fall camp will be as new and new can be at the job.

While Kirk Ferentz lists Jake Rudock as the "starter" he was quick to point out that Sokol and Beathard will be getting equal reps with the ones in spring practice. In other words, this race is wide open and may the best man win. Technically, Rudock has the most time on campus, having redshirted his freshman year and serving as the backup to Vandenberg last year. Sokol arrived on campus for spring football last year, so in another technical sense, he's had as much experience under Greg Davis as Rudock has. Beathard arrived with the rest of the true freshmen last year, so his level of experience is slightly less than the other two.

Ferentz said last week that he would welcome one of the three quarterbacks winning the job this spring, but in the same breath, he also said it was unlikely to happen that quickly. That's probably a fair assessment given the level of inexperience at this level for all three signal callers. The best guess is that the race lingers into the fall. It might be down to two of the three at that point, or it might end up being like Iowa's 1987 race, which saw all three quarterbacks in the mix. However, it's very unlikely that all three would play early in the year, like 1987. The last time Kirk Ferentz played two quarterbacks was in 2008 when Jake Christensen and Ricky Stanzi fought for the job. Following a close loss to Pittsburgh on the road, Ferentz went with Stanzi the rest of the way and by the end of that year Iowa was playing very good football in the final month of the year. My sense is Ferentz doesn't want to go back to the rotation if he can avoid it. He wants to settle on one guy and then if a change is needed down the road, he would be more open to it than he was this past year.

Which quarterback will win the starting job? Ask three people and you probably get three different opinions. That gives you a good sense on how wide open it appears to be. Right now the best bet would be Rudock, but there are quite a few people close to the program who are very high on Beathard. One thing is certain, this will be the hottest topic for Iowa fans heading into the 2013 season.

Coming Attractions: Nick Shimonek - 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds from Texas. Completed 176 or 279 passes for 2,718 yards and 35 touchdowns in his senior year. Rushed for 811 yards and 16 touchdowns in his senior campaign.

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