IOWA CITY -- Kirk Ferentz isn't looking for a new quarterback. Jake Rudock doesn't have to look over his shoulder.
Yes, Rudock's interception late in the fourth quarter set up Northern Illinois for Mathew Sims' game-winning 36-yard field goal in Saturday's 30-27 loss at Kinnick Stadium. Yes, there was that. NIU safety Jimmie Ward's pick of a pass intended for wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley was the topic in the postgame.
"It was one of those where it was man-to-man, I thought I had the out route," said Rudock, who played in his first football game since his senior season at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 2010. "The guy made a really great play and I threw behind him. That combination doesn't usually work out very well."
C.J. Beathard, Iowa's No. 2 QB, had headphones on the whole game. Rudock made few errors, but the late interception was a physical miss and it cost Iowa dearly. Ferentz will stick with Rudock going into Saturday's game against Missouri State (0-1).
"No, I don't think so," Ferentz said when asked if Rudock showed anything to consider a change. "I thought Jake did a lot of positive things out there, made good decisions, made a good run on that touchdown play [6-yard scramble in the second quarter].
"I thought he did a lot of really good things. I thought his composure was good out there, his presence, so I'm really encouraged. I'm expecting nothing but improvement from him just like I would like to see from our whole team."
The out route was troublesome. Rudock missed on three where the defender broke on the ball and had a shot at an interception. The Big Ten Network had former Iowa quarterbacks Paul Burmeister and Chuck Long, whose name went up on the Wall of Honor in Kinnick in a ceremony before the game, in the booth, with Burmeister handling play-by-play and Long as analyst. During an out route intended for wide receiver Jacob Hillyer in the first quarter, NIU corner Marlon Moore got under the ball and nearly picked it.
Burmeister: "How many times, Chuck, did you hear a quarterback coach here at Iowa or in the NFL say, don't throw late to the sideline?"
Long: "Well, it started with Hayden Fry, remember Paul? . . . Hey, they're lucky they got that pass broken up instead of an interception."
Rudock hopped twice and was late on the throw.
It's a throw Rudock has. You don't make it to starting QB in the Big Ten without being able to throw an out route.
"Yes," said Rudock, who ended up 21 of 37 for 256 yards, a TD and two interceptions. "We don't want to throw over guys, we'd rather throw right in front of them so they can't really make a play on it."
Rudock's timing was perfect on the next two out routes, completing both, including one while rolling the pocket, to Martin-Manley. One was for 15 yards and the drive ended with a TD.
In a bit of foreshadow, Rudock was pressured and threw a late sideline out to Martin-Manley with less than five minutes left. Ward got in front of Martin-Manley, but the ball sailed high and out of bounds. It drew an "oh" out of the Kinnick crowd.
The one Ward got is generally regarded as one of the toughest throws for a QB -- from the opposite hash marks to outside the field numbers. A small window was there if Rudock would've hit the target on the outside. It was underthrown and behind Martin-Manley.
"I don't know about that," Ferentz said when asked about the three risky throws, "but obviously if we knew it was going to get picked, I don't think Jake would have thrown it. That's football."
It was an aggressive play call. The game was tied 27-27 with 1:24 left. Iowa had first down at its 45. Ferentz said Iowa was going for the win.
"Absolutely," he said, "we were trying to complete a pass, move the ball down the field and I thought we had a good situation there, really did, but turnovers are tough to overcome, and we had three of them today. At the end of the day that makes it hard."
That was Rudock's first snap in the college game. The discovery phase continues this week. What did Rudock learn against Northern Illinois?
"I hate losing more than anybody, I can learn from that," he said.