No interviews with Beathard, Rudock; how QB rotation played out
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – C.J. Beathard exited the Iowa locker room at EverBank Field with two police officers shielding him.
No interviews, Iowa officials said, for either Hawkeye quarterback following a 45-28 loss to Tennessee in Friday's TaxSlayer Bowl — even though Beathard and Jake Rudock were on the request list.
Was it the final time Hawkeye fans see Beathard wearing black and gold? That's a question that would have been asked of Beathard after he and his father recently raised the possibility of transferring in an interview with Beathard's home-state newspaper, The (Nashville) Tennessean.
Rudock, a junior, started at quarterback Friday for the 25th time in 26 games, but sophomore Beathard was the one who ultimately saw more snaps.
Beathard had 49 snaps in nine possessions, producing 359 net yards (counting penalties), two turnovers and three touchdowns. Rudock had 19 snaps in five possessions, producing 116 net yards, no turnovers and one touchdown.
The coaches said ahead of the game that they would rotate the two, and go with the hot hand in the second half. That's what they did, going with Beathard — who led Iowa to its only first-half points — to start the second half. Although, by that time, the score was 35-7 Tennessee.
"I think they both did some good things," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "They both had some down plays, too. That's part of it. The way the game got away early, it's tough to evaluate anything in real great fashion."
Tevaun Smith turned a hitch route into a catch-and-run for 31 yards from Rudock on the game's second play from scrimmage, but the drive stalled from there. Rudock would only get four more possessions, none of which lasted more than four snaps.
As Ferentz said, Beathard had a few lowlights — he lost a fumble on the center exchange, then on the next drive was picked off in the end zone on an ill-advised third-and-goal pass.
He also showed flash, zipping an early pass 55 yards in the air to Smith that resulted in defensive pass interference. Both touchdown passes in the closing minutes — 31 yards to Ray Hamilton and 18 yards to Matt VandeBerg — were picture-perfect throws.
Beathard also showed an elusive presence in the pocket, finding Jordan Canzeri for an early third-down conversion. He also rushed for 82 yards on eight carries, including a scramble of 33 yards.
If Beathard returns to spring practice, he's at least given the coaching staff something to think about when it comes to a quarterback decision. Beathard finished 13-for-23 passing for 145 yards in his extended action. Rudock finished 2-for-8 for 32 yards.
Beathard hasn't spoken to Iowa media since late October; Rudock hasn't been made available since after the season-ending 37-34 loss to Nebraska. What they have to say about their situations is as much of a mystery as who is Iowa's quarterback in 2015.
"We'll go back and look at it," Ferentz said, "and go from there."