5 Tuesday topics with C.J. Beathard (including his health)

Chad Leistikow
Iowa junior quarterback CJ Beathard waits for the snap from Austin Blythe against Minnesota on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

IOWA CITY, Ia. — C.J. Beathard says he’s in pain but he’ll play Saturday against Purdue. The ban on quarterback sneaks might be lifted. And the Iowa junior had some more strong words about last year’s lack of team leadership.

Here's a look at five topics related to Beathard, who is 11-0 as the Hawkeyes’ starting quarterback, that emerged from his Tuesday media availability at the Iowa Football Performance Center:

His health

Beathard left Saturday’s 40-35 win over Minnesota for one play after getting whacked in the right hip on a late quarterback sneak. He stayed on the ground longer than he needed to so that backup Tyler Wiegers would have time to warm up.

Beathard suffered a hip pointer (“It hurts like crazy,” he said), a new injury that was added to Sunday’s treatment to his ongoing issue with the groin on his right side.

“I got a lot of treatment on the right side of my body pretty much,” Beathard said. “Yeah, pretty sore.”

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By the way, for the first time, Beathard used the word “groin” to say what’s been bothering him. It wasn’t his hip, he said. Previously, he was vague about the injury specifics, referencing a “leg” injury.

“It’s been my groin, hamstring area since Pitt,” Beathard said.

He won’t know how good he feels until Saturday — quarterbacks don’t get touched or run around in practices — but he’ll be out there at 11 a.m. against Purdue.

“It’s nothing that’ll keep me out of a game,” Beathard said. “It’s bothering me, but the medical staff has things they can do to help the pain go away and help the healing process.”

Ban on QB sneaks?

The hip pointer Beathard suffered was the same injury he suffered a year ago on the same play — a sneak — against Indiana. Ferentz said after the Minnesota win that the quarterback sneak would be removed from the playbook.

But he might be calling an audible on that one. Crunching the numbers, Beathard is 14-for-14 on converting quarterback sneaks this year — 12 for first downs, the other two for touchdowns. He’s gained 29 yards on sneaks — 2.1 yards a pop.

“Let me think about it,” Ferentz said. “C.J. did point (the stats) out to me.”

Beathard said his amazing sneak success is all about desire.

“It’s third-and-inches, I feel like everybody in the stadium knows we’re going to sneak the ball,” Beathard said. “It’s a matter of us wanting to get it more than they want to stop us.”

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Beathard agrees that his limited mobility in the last month — particularly in the weeks leading up to the Northwestern and Maryland games — has made him a better quarterback.

Off the field, he’s studied a ton of film. On it, he’s not immediately going to scramble mode if his first option isn’t open.

“I think so, especially in the early stages of the injury — especially when I wasn’t practicing as much — it taught me that I’ve got to focus mentally, even if I’m not getting all the reps I need to be getting,” Beathard said. “Not being able to run the ball as much, to know where my checkdowns are and know to get the ball out quicker.”

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National attention

A reporter for The New York Times was in the building Tuesday, asking about what fostered this year’s remarkable run. As has been much-discussed locally since August, the topic came back to Iowa’s improved leadership inside the building.

Beathard, as always, had good stuff to say about this topic.

“We didn’t have much leadership last year,” Beathard said. “A big part of being successful is having leaders and having guys that step up and lead the young guys. We’ve got guys that aren’t selfish this year. We had guys doing their own thing last year. It’s a unit, a group, we’re a team. We’re all in it together.”

Explaining line checks

Beathard was 1-0 as a starter last year — leading Iowa’s 24-10 win at Purdue. But that was a less-heady sophomore quarterback than the junior we’re seeing off to a 10-0 start this year.

“Dished up a pick-six fairly early in the game,” Ferentz recalled.

Ferentz went on to praise Beathard for getting the Hawkeyes into the right plays this year and emphasized his lack of turnovers (four in 10 games).

Beathard explained as much as he could about how he changes plays at the line of scrimmage. He made it sound easier than it is.

“(Coaches) give the quarterbacks options about what plays to run the ball within certain packages and certain looks,” Beathard said. “We get on the line and we see a certain look that we don’t like in this run, I’m going to check to a different run.

“We watch so much film during the week, when we see (a certain defensive formation), it’s hard to miss it.”


Matchup: No. 6 Iowa (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) vs. Purdue (2-8, 1-5)

When, where: 11 a.m., Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City


Tickets: About 62,200 sold as of Tuesday (capacity 70,585)

The line: Iowa is favored by 21