IOWA CITY — C.J. Beathard’s drawl gives him away.
It’s deep Tennessee. You can’t mistake it for a “twang,” either. Beathard’s voice just kind of slowly jogs out of the tunnel.
“It does come out a little more at home, I notice it, too,” Iowa’s redshirt freshman quarterback said. “When I’m up here, I feel like everyone has a northern accent. When I go back down there, I’m like, ‘Man, there are really a lot of southern accents down here.’”
Beathard is from Nashville, Tenn. He really is from Nashville.
His dad, Casey, is a country songwriter who’s worked with Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and Eric Church among others. That’s probably as Nashville as it gets.
“My dad with some of those big-name artists, when they were getting big and coming up, like Eric Church, he used to come to my house and write with my dad,” Beathard said. “This was before he was getting big. Even now, he still comes over and writes. My dad has a barn that’s more like his office where they write. He comes over every now and then and they write down there.
“It’s just weird to say that there’s a country music singer at your house.”
The ABC show “Nashville” has a strong country music element, of course. It also has a family that owns a very NFL-esque football concern. There are some parallels, aren’t there?
The football, that’s Beathard’s grandfather. Bobby Beathard won two Super Bowls as the general manager of the Washington Redskins. He worked with teams that appeared in seven Super Bowls.
From the way C.J. Beathard tells it, his grandfather is cool in his approach. A successful NFL general manager knows not to clog his QB’s head.
“He pretty much told me to go out there and give it my all, don’t think about things too much,” Beathard said. “If something bad goes wrong, you’ve just got to shake it off and go on to the next play. You can’t let this things wear you out and get you down. You’ve got to move on. Quarterbacks have to have a short memory.”
Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis said the 6-2, 195-pounder has been exactly that thus far through fall camp.
“He’s got a really quick arm. He’s got the ability to extend plays,” Davis said. “He has a little bit of a . . . I don’t know what the right term is . . . sometimes you want to say ‘no, no, no, OK, that turned out pretty well.’
Like a 3-point shooter?
“Yeah, and he’s not afraid to keep shooting.”
Of course, Beathard is in a quarterback competition with sophomore Jake Rudock and junior Cody Sokol. Rudock has the edge going into tonight’s scrimmage at Kinnick Stadium. Beathard has been on the outside fighting his way in during his short career.
He committed to Mississippi in May 2011 coming out of Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, Tenn. Then, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt was run out and Hugh Freeze came in. The Rebels wanted to go more mobile, more zone read at QB. Beathard is a pro-style QB. This is how he eventually found his way to Iowa, which has been a pro-style offense for approximately the last 35 years under Hayden Fry and now Kirk Ferentz the last 15 years.
“He’s a pro-style quarterback,” Battle Ground Academy coach Marty Euverard told The Tennessean. ”I think he can make almost every throw. And he’s a tough kid. He doesn’t mind sitting in the pocket and taking a hit to make a throw.”
Beathard arrived in Iowa City not that far behind Davis, so he’s caught up with the playbook, which everyone would like to see work much, much better in ’13.
Beathard offered an early review.
“Concepts are coming in so much better,” he said. ‘”We know where to go with the ball when something isn’t there, we’ll check it down. Receivers know where they need to be and are on their spots. It’s like night and day. It’s 100 times better than last fall.”
Another element that’s being embraced is the no-huddle offense. Beathard and Davis said four practices into fall that everything was called out of a no huddle. So far, it’s been a no-huddle and not a “hurry-up” no huddle. Plays have been called at the line of scrimmage.
“You get a lot more plays in a game, that’s one of the reasons we liked it,” Beathard said. “It gets the guys going and leaves us time on the play clock to audible and do what we need to do.”
Country music, football, a hint of drama in the air. Before we get too carried away, no, Nashville the town isn’t “Nashville” the TV show.
“That’s what everyone asks,” Beathard said with a laugh. “It’s actually kind of laid back. I like it. Downtown Nashville is great. You have an opportunity to see a country music star wherever you go.”
For the record, Beathard doesn’t sing, but he does play guitar.
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