Jake Rudock didn't take a snap last season. We talked about it this spring. As you can imagine, he didn't exactly agree with the decision.
“It is what it is,” said Rudock, the sophomore who's one of three QB candidates for the Hawkeyes this fall. “I think the way coach [Kirk] Ferentz handled it was good. He showed a lot of loyalty to James [Vandenberg]. Coaches don’t listen to fans, no matter what people think. Coaches shouldn’t. They get paid to make decisions and I support all of his decisions 100 percent.”
Rudock is right. It is what it is and now Iowa goes into August with a three-man race at quarterback, none of whom have taken a snap in a game. A QB hasn’t started a game at Iowa without a previous snap since Jon Beutjer made his debut at Indiana in 2000. (That worked out OK, at least statistically. Beutjer passed for 380 yards and four TDs, but Iowa lost, 45-33.)
Some Rudock facts:
-- Rudock (6-3, 205) led St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) to a 15-0 record and a mythical prep national title in 2010. During his prep career, he threw for 5,083 yards and 73 TD passes.
-- Aquinas had a quarterbacks coach. Yes, Rudock's high school had a QB coach. I talked to him when Rudock committed to Iowa. Coach Dave Bilitier told me that Rudock’s strength is quick decision making. “We work on that everyday in practice,” Rudock said when he committed in July 2010. “It’s always get rid of the ball, make your reads and make them quick. Don’t spend too much time on one receiver because he’s not going to get open. You can't waste time. You have to get it done.”
-- Rudock comes from a long line of analytical minds. His father is a lawyer. His oldest brother is in medical residency, specializing in pediatric neurology. His sister graduated from Florida State with a master’s degree. His mom, a second-grade teacher, also has a master’s degree. Rudock wants to go to medical school with an eye on pediatrics.
-- Rudock picked the Hawkeyes over Wisconsin, Colorado and Illinois. Memphis and Minnesota also offered. Wisconsin was the real competition here. Then, a week or so before signing day, newly minted Miami (Fla.) coach Al Golden took a serious run only to be denied.
-- And, from this spring, "I look at it as my position to win,” he said. “All of us are looking at it that way. Coaches have told us from Day 1, it’s an open competition. We have to take each day as it comes.”
Key 2012 factor: Well, nothing. You know Rudock didn't take a snap. He had his helmet on against Minnesota, but the Gophers scored a late TD, making it 31-13, and the first-team offense finished the game. Would snaps late in games that were pretty much meaningless have meant that much?
The way Rudock reacted to the question this spring, the answer is yes. But still, how much? Probably not much.
“One thing about quarterbacks, only one can play,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s not like a running back where you can rotate a couple guys through there.”
Offseason factor: Rudock was immediately elevated with Vandenberg's graduation. Does he have the inside track to the job? Ferentz said during Big Ten media days that all three QBs (Rudock, Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard) go into fall practice even.
Still, there was one sequence during the spring scrimmage where Rudock jumped Sokol when practice snaps were being distributed. (Might be something, probably nothing, but we don't have much info to work with here.)
Rudock's spring numbers: 15 of 20 for 171 yards and three TDs in the Des Moines scrimmage; 18 of 29 for 174 yards (no TD passes, but led three scoring drives)
Competition: During B1G media days, it felt as though Ferentz wanted to decide on a QB sooner rather than later and kind of get settled in at the position.
“We assess that as fast as we can and work it accordingly," Ferentz said. "Having three in the race, it’s not easy. It’s easier with two, but that is not the case.”
But then, he also said this offseason, "My guess is this will probably be longer than shorter [the competition]. It’s not often where this happens, but we’re going in really with a truly open mind. It’s not like there’s an incumbent there. I don’t think anybody has a clear advantage or edge.”
We all know it might not (probably won't) be that easy. Ferentz and OC Greg Davis have said they don't see a two-QB system coming out of this. I agree with that. All three have similar skill sets. We're not talking about a contrast, as Brad Banks and Kyle McCann were.
Quick feet, steady decision making and making plays when the helmet hits the ear hole are three elements being watched.
Why No. 7?: Is this too low for the QB? Last year in this exercise, Vandenberg was No. 1. The lines of his play and how the offense needed to performed never converged.
This season, the guess here is that there will be a "management" element to the position. Iowa will be made or broken, for the most part, with how its offensive and defensive lines perform. The QB can certainly add to the mix. He can end up being a force when or if other parts of the offense take time to come together.
But look at the experience. Iowa's staff won't ask too much out of the new QB. Probably. They definitely won't ask them to be something they're not. That said, the new guy will have to make plays. Maybe even big, game-changing plays. (Remember Ferentz talking about the lack of explosive plays in February? “It’s tough to be perfect for 12, 14 plays in a row,” he said. “You want to try to do that four times a game? That’s hard. So, somehow, some way, you have to come up with some bigger plays. Part of that is just experience. Part of that is us doing a better job helping create those things. You have to do that.”)
Outlook: I've said since seeing the QBs in the spring that I believed Rudock has an edge because of what he knows. A huge part of last year's failure on offense was because Davis' new system didn't translate to the players on the roster. Rudock seems to have the best handle on that.
That said, the Hawkeyes are halfway through fall practice and this was written in early August. Who knows what happened at yesterday's scrimmage. Anything could've happened, really.Click here for an interactive look at the complete Top 45 series.