Davis: Hawkeyes opened up QB position after Nebraska game

Rick Brown

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – Tennessee has a dual-threat quarterback in Josh Dobbs. Iowa will counter with dual quarterbacks when it meets the Volunteers in Friday's TaxSlayer Bowl.

Both Jake Rudock and C.J. Beathard will play in Friday's first half Friday, Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis said Monday. Davis wouldn't name the starter.

"Kirk (Ferentz) can make that call with y'all," Davis said. "The kids know. And they know the way we're gonna do it. But we're pleased with the way both of them have responded."

Both quarterbacks will take snaps in each of the first two quarters, Davis promised.

"Then we'll sit down at halftime and decide if we want to continue to do what we're doing, or if we're going to let one take the second half and go," Davis said.

Ferentz is scheduled to meet with reporters before practice Tuesday morning. Maybe he'll name the starter then. But I'll be shocked if it's not Rudock, who has started every game but one over the past two seasons.

When Davis' two-quarterback declaration hit Twitter Monday afternoon, the response was predictable. Skeptics took a "believe it when I see it" approach. Others wondered why it took so long. Still others thought it would crush Rudock's confidence.

Monday's news added another layer to this season-long drama and came a week after Casey Beathard, C.J.'s father, told the Tennessean newspaper in Nashville that his son's future at Iowa would depend on what unfolded in the bowl game.

It sounded like a play-me-or-trade-me moment and put Ferentz in a no-win position. If he stuck with Rudock and didn't play Beathard, he was showing C.J. the door. But play Beathard and the perception would be he was bowing to an ultimatum, something Ferentz hasn't made a habit of in 16 seasons at Iowa.

Davis said the story in the Tennessean was never a factor in the decision to go with both Rudock, a redshirt junior, and Beathard, a redshirt sophomore.

"We had already talked to both guys before that ever got out," Davis said. "I did not see the story. Obviously I heard about the story. Guys want to play. Only one can play at a time."

Ferentz floated the idea of a two-quarterback approach as far back as the summer, but Rudock has gotten a majority of the snaps. When Rudock was hurt late in the first half at Pittsburgh, Beathard rallied the Hawkeyes to victory and got his first start a week later in a victory at Purdue. Davis said Monday that Beathard was slowed during the second half of the season with a hip pointer suffered, apparently, in an Oct. 11 victory over Indiana.

Iowa's C.J. Beathard runs the ball against Northwestern.

The court of public opinion has debated the Rudock-Beathard case all season. It's like two politicians running against each other. Believers see positives for their candidate, faults for the rival. Why would passionate football fans be any different?

Davis recalled a story from his time at Texas, when Major Applewhite and Chris Sims were competing for the Longhorns' starting quarterback spot.

"Major used to say, 'It's amazing. If I make a great throw it was a tremendous read. And if Chris makes the same throw, it was a great throw.' " And that's true," Davis said.

Davis said the starting quarterback position was opened up heading into bowl preparations.

"I think I'd be remiss if we didn't say we were disappointed we let the Nebraska game (a 37-34 overtime loss in the regular-season finale) get away," Davis said. "So to me that's the reason we decided to open it back up."

Davis said you can make a case for both guys.

"But we're not interested in making a case," Davis added. "We're interested in trying to win another ballgame."

And there's something everyone can agree upon.

Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.