Assume the Position is our offseason guide to the Iowa Hawkeyes football depth chart. The math is difficult, so take it from us: As time moves on, we'll know more. That's why we rank the positions from most certain to least certain.
Typically, we wait until after the spring game to fire up Assume the Position, but there is so little in question in this year's quarterback depth chart that we're starting early, without even the benefit of a true spring game. Needless to say, any talk of a quarterback controversy looks like wishful thinking from those who want drama.
The Game Manager
Jake Rudock (#15, Junior (RS), 6'3, 210 lbs., St. Thomas Aquinas HS (Weston, Fla.))
On September 28, Jake Rudock went 15/25 for 218 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota. Iowa won 23-7. On November 9, Rudock completed 12/20 for 191 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-14 win over Purdue. On November 29, he went 9/15 for 126 yards and two scores against Nebraska. In all three games, Rudock completed exactly 60 percent of his pass attempts, and Iowa won all of them.
In fact, if you're looking for a quick-and-dirty stat for Iowa's 2013 season, it's this: Iowa was 8-0 in games where Jake Rudock completed 60 percent of his passes or better and 0-5 in games where he completed less than 60 percent. That completion percentage didn't have much of an effect on the success of the passing offense, mind you: Rudock's three highest yardage outputs (Northern Illinois, Michigan State, and Ohio State) all came in games where he didn't crack 60 percent, while Rudock's highest completion percentage (70.4 percent against Northwestern) came in a game where Iowa managed just 10 points in regulation and 169 total passing yards. There is a post hoc issue with fixating on completion percentage: Rudock's highest completion percentages came in games where Iowa's running game was largely successful, limiting his role in the offense and overall output. In 2013, Iowa won when Iowa ran, and Rudock completed a higher percentage of passes when Iowa ran. But Rudock completing more passes did not necessarily cause an Iowa win. The completion percentage correlation with winning is strong, but largely the result of its correlation with running yardage and defense.
What can be said, then, for Rudock's first season as a starter? His numbers were middling -- 59.0 percent completions for 2,383 yards, 18/13 TD/Int, 146 rushing yards on 67 carries -- and his game-by-game stats exclusively fell in the same category. Rudock didn't throw for 300 yards once in his first 13 games as a starter; he never threw for less than 100, either, which seems like a fairly low standard until you remember that Vandenberg managed just 92 yards on 24 attempts in his final game at Iowa. Rudock completed 19 fewer passes than Vandenberg had the previous season (on 43 fewer attempts), and managed just 134 more passing yards. If it weren't for the marked increase in touchdowns, Rudock would have essentially matched the worst season by an Iowa quarterback in nearly a decade.
That makes it basically the same season as every other Iowa first-year starter of the last decade.
|Iowa Quarterbacks' First Season as Starter, 2003-2013|
The second-year results from those quarterbacks are all over the board, only proving that judging a first-year starter during the Kirk Ferentz era is a dangerous proposition. In fact, the player who was closest to Rudock's position -- had to win a battle to take the starting job in a run-heavy offense, then threw too many interceptions while trying to find a capable set of receivers from a grab-bag of youngsters -- was Ricky Stanzi. Ricky was a pretty solid quarterback by his second season. We'll see if Rudock follows suit.
While You Wait for the Others
C.J. Beathard (#16, Sophomore (RS), 6'2, 205 lbs., Battle Ground Academy (Franklin, Tenn.))
This is why a Playstation offense doesn't work in real life. Beathard completed just 9 of 27 pass attempts for 179 yards over five games of work. That's 20 yards per completion...and 6.7 yards per attempt. When pressed, Beathard often relied on the power of his arm and the speed of his receivers, chucking it deep and hoping for the best. Those attempts usually fell incomplete which, to be fair, was probably the best.
Beathard's 4/15 performance against Wisconsin following Rudock's knee injury was the emergency brake for an Iowa offense that was already barely moving. And while Beathard improved, running for touchdowns against Purdue and Nebraska and posting a respectable 4/7 line in relief duty against LSU in the Outback Bowl, the overall performance showed that the youngster has a lot of work to do. The LSU game raised the specter of a quarterback controversy, but all indications are that it exists only in the collective mind of the fanbase.
Nic Shimonek (#9, Freshman (RS), 6'4, 210 lbs., Mildred HS (Corsicana, Tex.))
Greg Davis, freshly minted as Iowa's offensive coordinator in early 2012, went to Texas looking for a quarterback. He came back with Shimonek, a giant-sized but relatively unrecruited project from 40 miles south of Dallas. If he never advances beyond an intriguing project, it wouldn't be surprising; he has the highly-regarded Wiegers behind him and at least one top-rated quarterback recruit in the Class of 2015. But Shimonek has height, he has a cannon for an arm, and he has the wonderful effects of low expectations.
Tyler Wiegers (#8, Freshman, 6'3, 195 lbs., Detroit Country Day (Franklin, Mich.))
Iowa wasn't looking to add a quarterback to the Class of 2014, and had already moved into the hunt for a signalcaller in 2015, when Wiegers fell into the Hawkeyes' proverbial laps. The borderline four-star prospect decommitted from Rutgers as the Scarlet Knights' class imploded in November and has told anyone who will listen that Iowa's system fits him perfectly. The depth chart is full, though, and Wiegers is just 195 pounds, so it's almost certainly a redshirt and two years as an understudy before joining the Beathard-Shimonek-Wiegers-Beneventi-Boyle Mexican standoff in 2016.