Brown: C.J. Beathard will have shot to win starting job Saturday
IOWA CITY, Ia. – How will Iowa's two-quarterback system work? And how long will it be in place?
"Time will tell," Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said this week.
That time is now, 11 a.m. Saturday, against Indiana at Kinnick Stadium. An Iowa offense that has been mediocre for long stretches needs to pick it up against the Hoosiers today. And do it with two quarterbacks, not one.
Jake Rudock is expected to start, with C.J. Beathard in the bullpen. It's not an ideal situation. Two-quarterback attacks are, in a word, dicey. Five games and a bye week into the season, making the offense click has been a puzzle. This only adds more pieces.
"What we're worried about is moving the football and scoring points," Ferentz said. "I think both players are worried about that, too."
It's a legitimate concern. The Hawkeyes are averaging just 22.6 points, which ranks 12th in the Big Ten. Meanwhile, Indiana's high-tempo offense is averaging 33 points a game. The Hoosiers are 18th nationally in total offense at 513.2 yards a game. Iowa's offense is 91st at 372.4 yards.
In addition to scoring, Iowa's offense must win the time of possession battle to keep the Hoosier offense and running back Tevin Coleman, the nation's second-leading rusher at 168.2 yards a game, off the field.
Will this two quarterback attack work? As you've already heard, time will tell. On his weekly radio show this week, Ferentz said that Beathard would get "significant minutes." Want more clues? You'll have to watch the game.
In some ways, this season has become 2008 all over again. Jake Christensen, the incumbent starting quarterback, got the nod to open the season. But Ferentz started Ricky Stanzi in the second game that season, even though Christensen was No. 1 on the depth chart that week. Ferentz rotated both quarterbacks for the next two games before Stanzi won the job.
Ferentz has been criticized for being too loyal to Rudock, who won the job in a competition with Beathard and Cody Sokol in the fall of 2013 and started the next 17 games. Beathard relieved an injured Rudock for the second half at Pittsburgh, and also made his first career start at Purdue two weeks ago.
For those who think Beathard is clearly the best option, he'll have a chance to win the job starting Saturday against the Hoosiers.
Loyal or not, Ferentz will go with the guy who gives his team the best chance to win.
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.