The Iowa quarterback is frustrated with his leg/groin injury. Chad Leistikow | Hawkcentral.com
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Just when C.J. Beathard feels like he's getting healthier, he has to go take 70-some snaps in a Big Ten Conference football game. Then he hurts again. The Iowa junior quarterback admitted Tuesday that the cycle now and going forward is “very frustrating.”
Beathard continues to deal with a right groin injury that he appeared to sustain during the second half of Iowa’s 29-20 win over Illinois on Oct. 10.
When 8-0 Iowa plays at 4-4 Indiana at 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday (ESPN), it’ll have been four weeks since his mobility first became severely limited. Even with just two games since – a 40-10 win at Northwestern on Oct. 17 and a 31-15 defeat of Maryland on Halloween – the groin has not been able to heal.
“It’s tough to try and get up there to 100 percent, because each week I’m starting to get a little bit better and better, and then I’ve got to play,” Beathard said, “and then it goes back.”
Going forward fans should get used to Beathard the pocket passer. Maryland figured out it didn’t need to account for Beathard the scrambler and held Iowa to 53 second-half yards at Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa's playbook won't change a lot, but Beathard isn't running rollouts or bootlegs.
"But there’s other things we can do in their place," Beathard said Tuesday, adding he likes the game plan for the Hoosiers, who are allowing a Big Ten-worst 508.6 yards a game.
The plan, of course, remains for Beathard to play every snap. But if the pain gets to be too much, Beathard said he would tap out.
So, Tyler Wiegers is warming up in the bullpen for the 10th-ranked Hawkeyes. That remains a break-glass-in-emergency scenario at this point.
“I’m not going to be 100 percent. But I’m to a point where I’m decent enough where I can go out there and play,” Beathard said. “With the adrenaline going, it takes some pain away. I’m not going to force anything. If I feel I can’t finish (the game), that’s not good for our team. I’ll make sure if it ever gets to that point, I’ll let the coaches know.”
If Iowa does have to turn to Wiegers, that presents a jar of unknowns. Two weeks ago, Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis sounded confident that the redshirt freshman could get the Hawkeyes into the right plays. Wiegers is 3-for-4 for 32 yards in three mop-up stints.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday that Wiegers, a 6-foot-4, 222-pound native of Lake Orion, Mich., is further along than James Vandenberg was as a second-year freshman in 2009 when starter Ricky Stanzi was injured mid-game against Northwestern.
Of course, Hawkeye fans are hoping that the 2009 and 2015 parallels (the only two teams in program history to start 8-0) don't include a sidelined starting quarterback. But at least Beathard's limited reps in practice are giving Wiegers more time to get prepared, just in case.
"It's given Tyler more of an opportunity to work with the first group. That's always a healthy thing," Ferentz said. "Things look a lot different when you get into another huddle. He's doing a good job. That's a benefit of somebody being out, just kind of like Parker (Hesse) got a lot better when Drew (Ott) had his elbow issue, too. Hopefully he'll be a better player when he does get his opportunity."
But this is one year where the always-popular backup quarterback isn't the people's choice. The Hawkeye faithful know that Beathard's health is paramount to their team continuing an unbeaten season.
Meantime, Beathard is trying to manage himself while, of course, trying to win games. He's 9-0 as a Hawkeye starter.
“It’s frustrating, very frustrating. I don’t feel like I’m myself running the ball and doing different things," Beathard said. "It’s frustrating, but I kind of know what it is now. I know what I can and can’t do.”
Who: Iowa (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten) vs. Indiana (4-4, 0-4)
Where: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Ind.
Time, TV: 2:30 p.m., ESPN (Announcers: Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham)
The line: Iowa is favored by 6.5
Iowa players and coaches are more focused on their upcoming game in Bloomington than the College Football Playoff rankings.