Digital Rewind: Uneven C.J. Beathard still gets passing grade

Danny Lawhon
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Short of deliberately handing the ball to Purdue players, there was little Iowa starting quarterback C.J. Beathard could do that was going to set the Hawkeyes' live chat fan base aflame on Saturday.

Indeed, in spite of an ugly start, a composed finish in the 24-10 victory over the Boilermakers largely left the commenters wanting to see more.

The sophomore eventually won over Big Ten Network analyst Stanley Jackson, too. Jackson knows a thing or two about prolonged quarterback battles, as the Ohio State product split time with Joe Germaine in both 1996 and '97.

Not everything was sunshine and roses, however, particularly after a first-quarter pick-six thrown to Purdue's Frankie Williams.

"You've got to have a quicker clock. He held on to that ball way too long," Jackson said on the broadcast. "You've got a guy coming way across the field, you give the opportunity for a DB to undercut it, and that's exactly what (Williams) did. … A bad throw, off to the races for six."

Chat regular BonduHawk wasn't all that impressed, either, quipping: "Sunshine just got a little cloudier there."

The next series provided more ammo after a third-down sack.

"He's got to do something with the football sooner," Jackson said. "He can't just stand there like a statue thinking everything is going to be OK."

I took an informal poll at halftime grading Beathard's performance, and 68 percent of our 175 readers plugged in gave him a C, even after tying the score. By the time a 46-yard completion to Damond Powell salted up a conference-opening win, commenter Frank said, "I'm raising Beathard's grade to a solid B."

Same goes for Jackson, who was gradually more impressed with Beathard the more he saw of the Franklin, Tenn., native.

"Iowa got the ship corrected with that comeback win against Pitt, and then now here in the second half, they were able to figure things out," he said. "They got their running game going, and C.J. was able to complete some big balls and put this game away."

DREARY DROPS: Beathard's 17-for-37 performance would have looked considerably better had any Iowa receiver been able to hold on to a few high-velocity throws in the first half.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz counted five before halftime, he said in a postgame radio interview. Jackson had seen enough on a Powell third-drop drop late in the second quarter.

"I don't know if it's too hot here at Purdue, but boy, that's a few lost opportunities," he said. "You've got to look that ball all the way in."

What, then, was the Internet sleuths' source of the calamity? More anger emerged than did bona fide theories, but one reply gained particular approval.

"Jake (Rudock's) fault for the drops," joked ThaiHawk.

BRIEF BYTES: A by-the-book second half kept the online faithful placated for much of the late going, a rarity in a season filled with nail-biters. Yet there were still plenty of sources of concern, especially early.

-- Jordan Canzeri finished with 15 carries and 63 yards, but none came in Iowa's abysmal first quarter. That stat prompted Sportz Critter to push the sarcasm button.

"I like the thinking," began the reply. "Canzeri had (165 yards) against Purdue last year, so why hand the ball off to him in the first quarter?"

-- After watching Dillon Kidd average less than 40 yards per punt on seven tries Saturday, a handful of readers were wanting to know why Connor Kornbrath wasn't being given a chance.

"Any of you scribes that follow the inner workings of the Hawks," began chatter Scott, "is Kornbrath in the Ferentz doghouse?"

-- On the other hand, Purdue punted nine times during the loss, and not one was returned by an Iowa player.

"Can 83 (Riley McCarron) catch passes? He catches punts really well," observed HeneryHawk, after asking: "Is McCarron allowed to return it?"

ADVENTURES IN OFFICIATING: Normally, it's easy to pile on officials for making bad calls. But I want to point out a couple of sympathetic moments.

-- First, to today's field judge, who took quite a lick after Jonathan Parker was bopped out of bounds during the first half. Take a look at the sequence of photos below:

Saturday's field judge got laid out after Iowa's Jonathan Parker was spun out of bounds in the first half.
Saturday's field judge got laid out after Iowa's Jonathan Parker was spun out of bounds in the first half.
Saturday's field judge got laid out after Iowa's Jonathan Parker was spun out of bounds in the first half.

All was well soon after the play, though, and nobody missed any action.

-- Kevonte Martin-Manley's go-ahead catch was a thing of beauty that was first called incomplete. I won't fault the officials for missing this one, because to the naked eye it seemed like the proper initial call was made.

But the beauty of replay and the sharing capabilities of Twitter allowed for visual online proof of a quick fix:

As always, check out the chat replay right here, and don't be afraid to join us!