Jake Rudock earns redemption, cements starting role
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Outsiders tend to take Jake Rudock for granted.
His Iowa football teammates know better.
"If my life was on the line," freshman running back Jonathan Parker explained, "I'd depend on Jake.
"He's one of those leaders who distinguishes himself from everyone else."
Rudock separated himself from a quarterback controversy during Saturday's 45-29 victory over Indiana, completing 19 of 27 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns.
"I try not to listen to all that external stuff," Rudock said. "Obviously, you're going to hear things, but I'm just focused on my game, what I can do to help this team."
The Hawkeye faithful generally rave about Rudock's composure, and rant whenever he makes a conservative check down.
Against the Hoosiers, the junior from Florida earned a little bit of redemption.
"It didn't feel any different, other than what we knew going in, C.J. (Beathard) would get some snaps," Rudock said. "Other than that, it felt the same.
"It was just go in there, do what we need to do and get this offense moving."
Mission accomplished: Iowa, which was averaging 18.8 points per game, jumped to a 28-7 lead with a minute remaining in the first quarter.
Rudock was under center for the Hawkeyes' first five possessions, which covered a total of 213 yards.
"He was having fun out there," tight end Jake Duzey said. "We all were."
When Rudock suffered a hip-pointer three weeks ago, Beathard stepped in and helped Iowa beat Pittsburgh and Purdue.
The Rudock or Beathard debate was re-ignited.
"People are always going to have their opinion," Parker said. "Whoever plays, plays. It's a coach's decision. We have no opinion."
Ferentz told reporters afterward he tabbed Rudock as the starter based on practice performances.
Loyalty was probably another factor.
The Hawkeyes are 12-6 when Rudock starts a game (although it was Beathard who engineered the second-half comeback at Pittsburgh).
He's completed 61.6 percent of his career passes for 3,391 yards, and his 25 touchdowns places him ninth on Iowa's all-time list.
"At the end of the day, it's about winning games," Rudock said. "Honestly, I don't care how we do it.
"If we've got to run it 100 times, we'll run it. If we've got to throw it 100, we'll throw it 100."
Rudock toes the company line, and it's difficult to blame Ferentz for having confidence in him.
"We had a couple of plans," Ferentz said of juggling Rudock and Beathard. "One of the scenarios we forgot to cover is what unfolded today.
"It was just a wild game, weird game."
The game featured a 72-yard touchdown pass from Rudock to Damond Powell, and a 60-yard scoring sprint from Parker.
When it ended, Iowa was 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten. And there was little reason for anyone to complain about Rudock.
"When Iowa had a chance to make a big play, they did," Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said. "They had some nice conversions to keep drives alive and we didn't.
"Bottom line, they made a lot more plays than we did."