Beathard survives Pitt punishment: 'Not too banged-up'

Chad Leistikow
Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard threw a career-high 40 passes and rushed eight times against  Pittsburgh. He took an unofficial 13 direct hits vs. the Panthers.

IOWA CITY, Ia. — C.J. Beathard, like the rest of the Iowa football team, came out of Saturday’s punishing 27-24 win over Pittsburgh a little sore.

But considering the beating that Beathard took against the blitz-heavy Panthers — an unofficial video review had him taking 13 direct hits, including a helmet-to-helmet shot that triggered concussion protocol — it was a victory that the Hawkeyes’ starting quarterback declared himself good to go for Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game against North Texas.

“I was blessed the way it happened. God was protecting me, protected us out there,” the junior from Franklin, Tenn., said. “It could always be worse. I came away not too banged-up. ‘Sore’ is mostly the worst thing that happened to me, so that’s always good.”

Head coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday that, as a team, “We had a couple guys nicked up a little bit and sore, but we’re in much better shape than we were a week ago.”

LeShun Daniels “couldn’t drive off” his injured right ankle vs. Pittsburgh and is slowly improving, but Jordan Canzeri is the new No. 1 at running back. Daniels and defensive end Drew Ott (dislocated left elbow) have been limited in two practices this week. And Ferentz didn’t rule out withholding Ott, his best defensive player, from the North Texas game with the Big Ten Conference opener (Oct. 3 at Wisconsin) on deck.

Canzeri came out of the Pitt game in good shape, too, despite taking at least four whopping hits on his 19 touches.

“I’ve been hit harder,” said Canzeri, who did acknowledge the ice baths at the Iowa Football Operations Center were busier than usual the past few days.

“Even when you’re not completely sore or really hurt,” Canzeri added, “guys are still going in and contrasting hot-cold, hot-cold, because it does so many great things for your body.”

The ice-bath wait list included Beathard, who injured his left hip during a 9-yard touchdown run and his jaw on a crunching second-quarter sack by Pitt’s Matt Galambos. After that clash of helmets, which Beathard and his coaches thought should have drawn a flag for targeting, Iowa’s most important player testily fielded concussion questions.

“I told them I was fine. I didn’t feel like I had a concussion. I was pissed off more than anything,” Beathard said. “They were asking me what quarter it was and I’m like, ‘I’m not stupid. I know what quarter it is.’”

An injury to Beathard could derail the Hawkeyes, who are not only off to their first 3-0 start since 2009 but have looked good doing it. Beathard has completed 64 percent of his passes for 684 yards and four touchdowns with one interception and also leads Big Ten quarterbacks in rushing with 142 yards. He is doing rehab for that hip, which had him limping for much of the second quarter vs. Pitt.

With unproven freshman Tyler Wiegers as his backup, Beathard knows he can’t take continue to take 13 punishing hits a game. Ferentz realizes it, too, referencing Beathard’s pursuit of extra yardage on a quarterback sneak as something coaches don’t teach him to do.

But Beathard's style matches his character: all-in for the team.

“I’m not big at sliding,” Beathard said. “One is, I’m just not good at it. I did play baseball, but on a football field it just feels weird.”

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On the game-winning drive against Pitt, Beathard scrambled three times for 27 yards. He dove head-first on the last one in an effort to gain every last inch to set the stage for Marshall Koehn’s 57-yard, walk-off field goal.

“I’ve got to be smart, but at the same time I’m a gamer and I’m competitive,” Beathard said. “If I’m forced to dive and get the first down, I’m going to do that. I’m not going to be a baby out there. But there’s times when I should slide and get out of bounds.

“I felt like I did that last game. At times when we needed it, I tried to get the extra yard. I’ve just got to continue to remember that and take as little shots as I can, because we’re only about to be four games into it, and it’s a long season ahead of us.”


IOWA (3-0) VS. NORTH TEXAS (0-2)

When, where: 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Kinnick Stadium

Television: ESPNU

The line: Iowa is favored by 24.5 points.