Hawkeye quarterback accepts much of the blame for Saturday's loss. Andrew Logue/The Register
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The explanation from Jake Rudock was succinct and accurate.
"We've just got to come out and play better football," Rudock said Saturday after Iowa's 51-14 loss to Minnesota. "It's really that simple."
It's also just a matter of time before folks will rekindle a quarterbacking controversy, after Rudock struggled through a 10-of-19 passing performance that netted 89 yards and included an interception.
He was replaced by C.J. Beathard, who didn't fare much better, going 3-of-7 for 32 yards.
Truth is, this sort of embarrassment goes beyond any one position and belongs to an entire unit.
Outside of tailback Akrum Wadley (nine carries for 68 yards), the entire offense dropped a statistical you-know-what in the punch bowl.
Mark Weisman averaged 1.5 yards per rush behind slip-shod blocking, while Rudock and Beathard were given little time to scan the field.
"They brought a few different pressures," Rudock said. "Nothing they hadn't done before.
"That's the thing: They played their game plan. We just didn't handle it well."
Rudock was coming off a stellar effort the previous week, connecting on 12 of 19 attempts for 239 yards during a 48-7 rout of Northwestern.
He was also completed three early passes Saturday — twice hitting Tevaun Smith, covering 35 yards — as the Hawkeyes drove 76 yards on their first series vs. Minnesota.
"You always feel good about going down and scoring," Rudock said. "Very few games are won with just seven points. We knew we had to score more."
So, what happened?
"I have no idea," said Smith, who ended with three grabs for 38 yards.
Give credit to the Gophers for showing some fortitude.
"Our kids didn't panic," coach Jerry Kill said. "Our defensive coordinator (Tracy Claeys) is a sharp guy and he threw some things in there. ... You work your way into calling a game."
From the Iowa perspective, it was galling.
"We got outplayed and outcoached in all three phases," Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz said. "Credit goes to Minnesota. They were clearly the aggressors today, and we were the acceptors.
"Just a bad combination."
Rudock compounded the situation, throwing a pick on Iowa's second series. But he and Beathard were also victims of poor field position, with five possessions starting inside their own 15-yard line.
"That's not an excuse," Rudock said. "If you get it at the 1, you want to go 99. It's just executing, and we didn't execute."
Iowa gained a total of 157 yards on its opening and closing drives, but covered just 60 yards on the 10 possessions in between.
"I can't really put a finger on it," Rudock said. "We just didn't play good football. We got what we deserved."