Forget the QBs, Hawkeyes have unsightly stats to solve

Andrew Logue

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Before delving too deep into Iowa's quarterbacking dilemma, there's something else to consider:

The offense has been a sputtering mess, regardless of whether Jake Rudock or C.J. Beathard is under center.

"It's just little things, being more consistent out there," running back Mark Weisman said. "We're playing physical. We've gotta play a little more smart."

The Hawkeyes (4-1, 1-0 in the Big Ten) will bring some unsightly statistics into Saturday's 11 a.m. matchup with Indiana (3-2, 0-1). The game will be televised on ESPNU.

They rank 100th nationally in scoring, with 22.6 points per game, 94th in total offense with 372.4 yards and 79th in first downs gained this season with 110.

"We just need to improve," tight end Ray Hamilton said. "We're not worried about those past stats. We're worried about what we've got coming up ahead."

In the immediate future, it appears Rudock will start against the Hoosiers. But coach Kirk Ferentz also said earlier this week that Beathard will get significant snaps.

"We certainly have two guys who demonstrated some good things on the field," Ferentz said. "They have things to improve upon like all of us do.

"So, we're going to keep pushing forward."

Rudock rallied Iowa to a win over Ball State, then took the blame when things bogged down at Pittsburgh.

Beathard replaced an injured Rudock and sparked a comeback against Pitt. When he made his starting debut a week later at Purdue, Beathard's performance was up and down. He fired an early pick-six, but rallied the Hawkeyes to a 24-10 win.

"I think it's just the nature of where they are offensively," Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said of the Hawkeye quarterbacks. "I don't think it changes dramatically. They're going to do what they do, and they execute it really well.

"I'm sure (offensive coordinator Greg) Davis and Kirk will get the guy they think is going to give them the best chance to win, and it's kind of nice they've got two guys they can do it with."

Wilson is being kind when discussing Iowa's offensive execution.

Iowa running back Mark Weisman runs for a touchdown against Purdue .

Opponents no longer dread the Hawkeyes' rushing attack. They're 91st nationally, with an average of 140.2 yards on the ground, and have not produced 100-yard rusher in any game this season.

"They (the quarterbacks) can get us into the best play, and then it's our job to make it work," Weisman said. "It's completely on the offensive line, tight ends, fullbacks, running backs, everyone.

"We've got to be working on all cylinders."

There have been glitches in the passing game as well.

Rudock was tagged with an interception after Damond Powell bobbled a deep pass at Pittsburgh. Beathard was the victim of at least a half-dozen drops at Purdue.

"We're going to be pretty damn good as an offense," Hamilton said, "if we can all go out there and execute our task."

Part of the job today will be keeping pace.

The Hoosiers average 33 points and 513.2 yards. Iowa has not scored more than 31 points or gained more than 455 yards this season.

"We're not worried about their offense," Hamilton said. "We've got a pretty damn good defense.

"We just need to go out there and produce points (against) whoever we're playing."