CORALVILLE — Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock ended the season on the sidelines. So, he begins Outback Bowl preparation with heavy-duty knee braces on both legs.
The “percentage question” happened during the Hawkeyes lunch at the Outback in Coralville on Monday. The percentage question always happens. It’s a tough one to gauge.
“I’m good,” said Rudock, who passed for 18 TDs this season while helping Iowa flip a 4-8 2012 into 8-4 and an Outback Bowl bid. “I always hate the percentage question, but I feel good. I feel better than I have, better obviously than after the game. I’ll be ready to go.”
Rudock suffered a sprained right knee in the second half aganist Wisconsin on Nov. 2. Then in the third quarter against Nebraska in the season finale, Rudock sprained his left knee and had to leave the game. He said he didn’t rush back into practice and that the time off helped. He has been practicing with knee braces, the kind offensive linemen wear to prevent knee injury, on both knees.
Rudock, just the second Iowa QB since 2007 to complete 60 percent of his passes (195 of 324 for 60.2 percent), has participated in every practice, but freshman C.J. Beathard, who filled in after Rudock’s injuries, has replaced him in some team situations.
When asked which player might benefit from a month between games, offensive coordinator Greg Davis mentioned Rudock.
“He’s got both knees banged up, so we’ve been able to pick our spots for when we’ve used him,” Davis said.
Last week, HawkeyeReport.com reported that Beathard will return to Iowa next season, squashing any fledgling transfer rumors. Iowa’s QB depth chart for 2014 should go Rudock (junior), Beathard (sophomore), Cody Sokol (senior) and Nic Shimonek (redshirt freshman) with newly committed Tyler Wiegers as an incoming freshman.
Davis said Beathard, who finished the season 5 of 20 with an interception and two rushing TDs, likes it at Iowa.
“The fact that Jake is coming back and the fact that C.J. is coming back, I’ve been in situations where the guy who was the backup one year ends up being the starter the next,” Davis said. “You can’t ever predict how guys will continue to grow. I think he [Beathard] trusts us and what’s going on.”
Clock management glory
No, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz isn’t holding up the final seconds of the 2005 Capital One Bowl as a sterling example of clock management.
“It was hardly a great moment in clock management,” Ferentz said Monday.
The Hawkeyes tipped LSU on the game’s final play, 30-25. Iowa had a false start penalty with around nine seconds left and hurried to get a snap off for the final play. Quarterback Drew Tate hit wide receiver Warren Holloway for a 56-yard TD that gave Iowa the win.
In retro-retro-retrospect, the result showed Iowa knew what it was doing. It ran a play called “98 All-Up,” which put four wide receivers in vertical routes. The replay shows LSU’s defense in a scramble mode that ended up in a blown coverage.
“They ended up blowing a call,” Ferentz said. “The clock was running after the penalty and that’s where all heck broke loose. It worked out for us.
“It’s well documented there was chaos. The bottom line is when the last play was snapped, we knew what we were doing and they didn’t. That worked out to our advantage.”
To say the least.
Ferentz said Monday that he expects all of Iowa’s players to be eligible for the Outback against LSU. Iowa continues to work through a few injuries.
“Everybody was on the field [practicing] on Friday,” he said. “We’ve had some injuries coming out of the last game. We had some guys who rested for a couple of weeks, but everybody was on the field Friday. We still have some guys who aren’t there yet, but hopefully they will be by the end of the week and they’ll have a good game-week preparation.”
The early bowl prep has allowed some young players to shed scout team duties and jump into what Iowa does. Davis said freshman running LeShun Daniels and true freshman wide receiver Derrick Willies have stood out.
“LeShun Daniels has really done a good job,” Davis said. “Derrick Willies is a guy we’re redshirting, but he’s having a really good bowl preparation. That’s one of the benefits of a bowl, getting the extra practices. I’m sure there are guys I’m missing, but those two jump out.”
Daniels played as a true freshman this year. The 6-0, 225-pounder rushed 36 times for 142 yards. Willies is a 6-4, 205-pound receiver from Rock Island, Ill.
Nubs of news
– The Hawkeyes leave for Tampa on Christmas Eve. After the 2003 Orange Bowl, a loss to USC in which Iowa looked a bit disorganized, Ferentz has stuck with largely the same plan for bowls. Curfews will start loosely and then tighten as the week goes.
– Shimonek is playing the QB for Iowa’s scout team. True freshman Anthony Jennings is listed as the Tigers’ starter for the bowl. Jennings replaced senior Zach Mettenberger for the final drive of LSU’s regular season. Mettenberger suffered a torn ACL and is out for the Outback. Jennings replaced him and hit Travin Dural for a 49-yard TD to win pull off the comeback victory.
“Shimonek is doing it, but he doesn’t quite have the foot speed that maybe we’re expecting to see,” Ferentz said. “We don’t have a lot of film on him [Jennings], but the film we’ve seen is impressive. He’s a very good athlete. It wouldn’t be a total shock if we saw a little more diversity in their attack than we saw before.”
Jennings can run the ball. Mettenberger was a pro-style pocket quarterback.
“It’s obvious to me that a) [Jennings] was highly recruited, which doesn’t mean a lot all the time,” Ferentz said, “but the thing that is important, once he got to campus, he earned the No. 2 job. That does say something because they have a lot of good players there.”
According to Rivals.com, yes, Iowa did recruit Jennings, who’s from Marietta, Ga.
“We probably sent him a letter and offered him, like everyone else in the world,” Ferentz said in a deadpan. “We never got involved.”
– There was one “SEC speed vs. Big Ten power” question on Monday. Let’s try to keep a tally.
(I won’t pad this, by the way, but Ferentz did have a good answer. I’m not promising that I won’t write under that headline. Shaddup, gonna be a long week.)