Brown: The real key for Hawkeyes at Purdue? 60 minutes
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The first 15 questions Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz fielded at his weekly news conference Tuesday dealt with quarterbacks.
Fifteen…that matches Jake Rudock's uniform number, so there's that if you believe in premonition. But maybe it will be No. 16, C.J. Beathard, who gets his first career start at Purdue on Saturday and a crack at carrying over the momentum generated from his relief stint at Pittsburgh last week.
But the number I think is most important at Purdue isn't 15 or 16. It's 60. As in 60 minutes of football. The last 30 against Pittsburgh last week were pretty good. And a lot more good football than the Hawkeyes had dished out in any of their first three games.
Now that the Big Ten Conference season as arrived, part-time work won't cut it anymore.
"We need to be able to start a fight and finish a fight," Iowa tight end Ray Hamilton said.
One way Iowa can do that is to take the same approach on defense it did last week. Substitute early and often.
"It takes a little bit of the stress off of me and Louie (Trinca-Pasat) and the rest of the defensive line's shoulders," tackle Carl Davis said. "Double teams can wear you down."
The front four of Davis, Trinca-Pasat, Drew Ott and Nate Meier will be there at the start. Ferentz considers defensive end Mike Hardy a starter, too. And backup tackles Jaleel Johnson and Faith Ekakitie got the most significant minutes of their careers against Pittsburgh.
Rotating early and often accomplishes two things. One, it wears down the opponent with fresh legs.
"(Pittsburgh) didn't come out with as much of a punch (the second half)," Trinca-Pasat said. "We were able to take advantage of that."
The rotations also develop Iowa's line of the future. Davis and Trinca-Pasat are seniors.
"Jaleel and Faith can be big-time players next year," Davis said.
Iowa also rotated a lot at linebacker and secondary, some of that necessitated by injuries and the first-half suspension of safety Jordan Lomax.
"You don't want to have 11 starters," Lomax said. "You want 22, and try to get to 33. That way, when someone gets hurt, the next man comes in and competes at the same level."
Purdue is an improved team from the one Iowa defeated last season, 38-14. But that won't matter if the Hawkeyes turn in their part-time pay slips and start working full time.
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.