5 questions with Iowa football reporter Andrew Logue
1. How optimistic should I be about the Maryland game this weekend?
I'm not wowed by the Terrapins, but Iowa's first six opponents have a combined record of 15-22, so I'm not sure the Hawkeyes can take anything for granted. Still waiting for a complete effort from the offense, defense and special teams.
2. So is the quarterback issue put to rest?
Mostly. I think the trick now is keeping C.J. Beathard engaged. Once a kid gets a taste of playing, it can be difficult to keep them happy on the sideline. Coach Kirk Ferentz says he expects Beathard to get some playing opportunities, but starter Jake Rudock went a long way toward silencing doubters. Others asked if Beathard was given a fair chance to show his skills against the Hoosiers. I think it had more to do with the fact Iowa was moving the ball well, and it didn't make sense to mess with momentum. The play-calling was more conservative when Beathard was in, but sometimes it just comes down to situations. One thing to remember, he had two off-seasons in which he could have beat out Rudock. So this is more than a one-game tryout. The controversy has subsided for now, until Rudock throws a couple interceptions. Then the clamoring will start again.
3. Do you expect right guard Jordan Walsh to play?
Ferentz said the junior was "nicked up" after apparently tweaking an ankle against Indiana, but added that it wasn't a serious injury. Walsh will be evaluated as the week goes on. If there is no chance of long-term problems, I think he'll play.
4. Does an Iowa running back break 100 yards this weekend?
Well, Maryland is allowing 212 rushing yards per game. But the Terrapins will make stopping Iowa on the ground a point of emphasis. It's been nine games since an Iowa tailback reached the century mark, but these things sometimes end when you least expect it. I say Mark Weisman and Jordan Canzeri end up with like 88 and 63 yards. Throw in another 50 by Jonathan Parker, and it's all good.
5. We saw Parker's speed on the jet sweep, we know Canzeri has speed, Damon Bullock "supposedly" has speed. Why don't we ever run screens or wheel routes to lock up a linebacker on our running backs? Instead we throw a bunch of 3-yard outs. Thoughts on the play-calling?
To me, the timing just never looks right when Iowa tries those sorts of passes to the backs. The jet sweep is both an effective play and a nice decoy, causing a misdirection problem for the defenses. I thought offensive coordinator Greg Davis called a nice game last week. Usually comes down to doing what the players execute best.
BIG TEN BUZZ
Four Big Ten running backs are among the nation's seven leading rushers: Indiana's Tevin Coleman is first (176.7 yards a game), Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon second (174.3), Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah fourth (146.3) and Minnesota's David Cobb seventh (136.5). The last time the Big Ten had at least three players average 140 yards or more in a season was 2000 – Damien Anderson of Northwestern (171.9), Wisconsin's Michael Bennett (152.8) and Michigan's Anthony Thomas (144.4). Anderson is also the last Big Ten player to average at least 170 yards a game…Keep an eye on fourth-down plays when Iowa visits Maryland Saturday. The Terrapins are perfect on five fourth-down attempts. Iowa is nine of 12…Two of the nation's top five quarterbacks in passing efficiency square off Saturday in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State's J.T. Barrett ranks third at 186.3. Gary Nova of Rutgers is fifth at 170.9. A third Big Ten quarterback, Michigan State's Connor Cook, is 14th (158.9).
KEEP AN EYE ON …
No. 19 Nebraska (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) at Northwestern (3-3, 2-1 Big Ten). It took a Hail Mary for the Cornhuskers win this game last season in Lincoln. A year later, Nebraska will try and take a major step toward West Division supremacy in Evanston (BTN, 6:30 p.m.). Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong, Jr., has passed for 1,325 yards this season. That's two yards more than Northwestern's Trevor Siemian. But Nebraska's trump card could be running back Ameer Abdullah, the nation's fourth-leading rusher at 146.4 yards a game. And Northwestern is 11th in the league in rushing defense. The loser of this game faces a long climb to get at least a share of the West Division crown.