Digital Rewind: All hail C.J. Beathard, new Hawkeye hero

Danny Lawhon
Did C.J. Beathard's excellent second half win over Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz? Well, Beathard at least has won over the Hawkeye fan base.

Seeing is believing for many in the Hawk Central chat crowd after watching C.J. Beathard fling the football for a half.

Seeing is also believing, apparently, when it comes to whether they think Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz will give the No. 2 quarterback a starting shot.

Beathard's emergence in Iowa's 24-20 comeback win over Pitt on Saturday was an I-told-you-so moment weeks in the making for the online faithful.

But will their pleas reach Ferentz's ears long-term? The jury's out for at least another few days.

Clamoring for the quarterback with the golden locks, commenters doubly rejoiced as the 6-foot-2, 203-pound sophomore from Franklin, Tenn., went 7-for-8 for 98 yards without a turnover and with multiple examples of a powerful throwing arm.

"You can't really tell how a guy is going to perform in a game just by watching practice," commented Frank. "I know Beathard didn't do squat last year, but when I saw that beautiful almost-TD pass earlier this year, I knew I wanted to see more."

Ferentz's postgame comments on ESPNU with sideline reporter Niki Noto and on the Iowa radio postgame show did nothing to clear up the under-center hierarchy, however.

"Jake got injured right at the end of the half, so he couldn't go," Ferentz said unprompted in response to a question about Beathard on TV. "C.J.'s done a good job. … We'll probably have a huge controversy in Iowa now. Good thing to deal with. But we've had great faith in both guys."

Asked reader Todd: "How likely is it that Rudock starts the next game? I'm guessing about 99.9% chance."

A quip on the radio broadcast also brought up the antennae fast.

At least one frequent commenter in Blitz! took that as a backhanded remark.

"The only way to find out how good Beathard is is to give him playing time," began the reply. "And as for Ferentz's comment about practice, that's awesome that his first instinct is to trash the guy that just won a game for him. Where do I throw up?"

A guest chimed in and said that past history leaves him uneasy.

"Beathard deserves to keep starting until he proves otherwise – why do I think it won't work out that way at Iowa?" the guest said. "Shouldn't even be a discussion at this point."

But the talking will go on. And on. And perhaps on until early Saturday morning against Purdue.

Believe that.

SOME SECOND-HALF LOVE: It wasn't just Beathard who was being given the praise in a near-universal thumbs-up of a second half.

"How does a new QB make receivers catch better and the OL block better?" surmised user BrIowaWild amid the quarterback hoopla. "I don't care, but I like it."

The Iowa defense, which had gotten raked over the coals on the ground before halftime with a near 2-to-1 play disparity in favor of Pitt, was the source of late cheers, too.

"Kudos to (defensive coordinator Phil) Parker and the defense," said chat regular BonduHawk. "Outstanding adjustments and execution in the second half."

At least some of the communication credit went to Jordan Lomax, who returned for the second half after serving the remainder of his targeting suspension during the first 30 minutes. A couple of late pass breakups worked wonders for another defensive back.

"(Greg) Mabin is the man," said Sportz Critter.

A THUMBS UP: I'll acknowledge that I didn't know much about ESPNU broadcasters Adam Amin on play-by-play and former Pittsburgh star John Congemi. Consider me impressed with what I heard. It was a balanced mixture of honest game delivery that may have delivered the most entertaining telecast of the season.

Congemi had a good discussion in the first half about how the Hawkeyes needed to make defenses respect them vertically. He described such plays to earn that respect as "plus-12 runs or plus-16 passes," which had been difficult to come by in the first three games of the season.

Amin deftly pointed out the opinion of Hawkeye fans and other observers about Beathard's perceived stronger arm in comparison with Rudock within Beathard's first series. Amin then advocated for Damond Powell's one-handed 63-yard play to make SportsCenter's Top 10 plays of the day.

Then, when Mark Weisman gave Iowa the lead with below six minutes to go, Congemi complimented both sides of the ball.

"The Hawkeyes are just feeling it in the second half, both offensively and defensively," he said. "… That's three drives under C.J. Beathard, a touchdown, a field goal and a touchdown in this half alone. They've done a nice job of moving the football, and Weisman has been a key component to that."

A GOOD NON-REVIEW?! NO WAY...: All too often in Iowa this season, we've heard about poor replay booth decisions.

Iowa State-Kansas State, anyone?

Anyway, a first-quarter pass to Matt VandeBerg looked complete at first blush but was then ruled incomplete on the field, and Iowa had to punt on that drive. Some fans asked for a replay that never came, but a slowed-down version of the play showed that the eagle-eyed officials from the Big Ten were right on all fronts. Way to go.

Check out how the day unfolded right here.