Why Hawkeyes might be excited to face dual-threat QB
IOWA CITY, Ia. – The thought of facing a dual-threat quarterback makes linebacker Quinton Alston smile.
That might surprise Iowa football fans, considering how they've seen their team picked apart in recent seasons by speedy, strong-armed passers.
Maryland's C.J. Brown will try to do the same Saturday, when the Hawkeyes visit Byrd Stadium.
"He's not scared to put his head down and take a hit," Alston said. "I like that."
While some see Brown as potential tormentor, Alston sees an opportunity.
The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Brown leads the Terrapins with 263 rushing yards, which means collisions are inevitable.
"If he does try to stay up, I'm a linebacker, so we've got to rally to the ball," Alston explained. "I'm going to hit him. It's going to be fun."
This sort of matchup is rarely fun for the Hawkeyes (5-1, 2-0 in the Big Ten).
In the early years of Kirk Ferentz's tenure as coach, athletic quarterbacks such as Indiana's Antwaan Randle El (187 rushing yards on 19 carries against Iowa in 2000) left defenders flummoxed.
Ohio State's Troy Smith padded his Heisman Trophy resume with 186 passing yards and four touchdowns in 2006.
Another Buckeye, Braxton Miller, broke Hawkeye hearts a year ago with 222 yards passing and 102 rushing.
"That's just how football evolved," defensive tackle Carl Davis said. "The game is starting change year by year.
"You've got these guys who can run fast, and they can also launch the ball downfield."
Brown averages 4.1 yards per carry for Maryland and is completing 57.5 percent of his passes, prompting comparisons to at least one past Iowa antagonist.
"I would say he could almost be like a Dan Persa from Northwestern a couple years ago," safety John Lowdermilk said. "He was very athletic. He was a good runner and was also a good passer."
Persa threw for 318 yards and ran for 50 more in a 2010 win over the Hawkeyes.
"It just gives you that extra element you've got to worry about," Alston said. "You worry about running backs. You worry about receivers who are fast.
"Then you give a guy the ball every play, and the option to either run it or pass it, that's just in the back of your mind."
So what is Iowa's mental outlook heading to Maryland?
"We've got to prepare during the week, and know when he starts scrambling on the back end, we have to stay on the receivers," Lowdermilk said. "Because if we run up, somebody is going to be open, which is something we've learned from in the past."
A sore wrist led to Brown sharing snaps with Terrapins backup Caleb Rowe, who has appeared in four games.
Fortunately for Ferentz and his staff's preparation, Maryland's approach remained mostly the same.
"They're not dramatically different, so in this case, it's not a big deal," Ferentz said. "In some cases, if you had a runner and a thrower, that would be a little different scenario. But both guys run the ball really well, and both of them throw it pretty well."