IOWA CITY, Ia. – Offensive execution for Iowa starts with the mind of C.J. Beathard.
The junior quarterback made a key read on third-and-9 late in Saturday's third quarter of the Hawkeyes' 40-20 victory over Purdue at Kinnick Stadium.
Seeing a certain blitz from Purdue, Beathard checked into the perfect play. The result: A game-changing 35-yard touchdown pass to tight end George Kittle.
"C.J. saw it, and he checked to it," Kittle said. "He's the dude."
The tight end scored to break open a 20-13 game.
Kittle was split out wide to the left, but when Beathard recognized what Purdue was doing, he changed the play. He waved Kittle inside to provide what is called "fake protection."
"George slipped out the backdoor," Beathard said. "The offensive line did a good job giving me enough time to get it off."
It was a play Iowa had practiced. Kittle blocked his blitzing lineman briefly, then slipped behind freshman free safety Brandon Roberts.
"I basically had to not run into the free safety and it was a touchdown," Kittle said.
All Beathard had to do was pop-fly a floater over the middle. After the catch, Kittle had nothing but the end zone in front of him. He ran untouched for a 27-13 lead to steal momentum from the Boilermakers.
Just like it was drawn up. Iowa had seen other teams make that play work during film study.
"We knew if we executed it, it was going to work," Kittle said.