TAMPA, Fla. — Of course, you remember that time Jake Rudock lectured on spectrometry. It was captivating.
The Iowa quarterback is a microbiology/pre-med major and was swamped with classes this fall, including organic chemistry II. At one point this fall, a TV station asked him to breakdown a portion of his studies in organic chem. He picked spectrometry.
“That’s dealing with certain organic compounds and if they are an ‘L’ configuration,” the sophomore said. “Say you’re talking about medicine, it comes with two stereoisomers, so that’s two different types of the same compound, same elements and everything, but has a slightly different spin on it.”
He seemed to know what he was talking about. No one in the media could’ve questioned him.
Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis knew he was getting a smart student in Rudock.
“There’s sometimes book smart and football smart,” Davis said Saturday after the Hawkeyes (8-4) wrapped up their third Outback Bowl practice. “They don’t always coincide, but in his case it did. We started the season with some easier things. As the season has gone on, he’s handled more and more and more.”
In year two under Davis, Iowa’s offense has struck a coherent rhythm. Last season’s incompletes and palms-up looks from receivers has turned into messages communicated and received, in both pre- and post-snap situations. In other words, everyone seems to be on the same page.
Rudock won the job over C.J. Beathard and Cody Sokol. Davis has enhanced Rudock’s best skill set, which is his brain, specifically how he sees the game.
“You can’t always walk up there and run the play,” said Rudock, who completed 195 of 324 passes, becoming just the second Iowa QB in the last six years to complete 60 percent during a season. “I know there are a lot of offenses out there that do that and they’ve had success.
“Our offense is a little bit different. You have to see what they’re doing, see what you can possibly get them on or just get those 3 yards rather than one.”
Rudock is a triggerman in every sense of the word. The sophomore from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., calls the checks, is given a plethora of options on most plays. Rudock has structure and tools, but he’s also handed a gameplan on a weekly basis and told to make it work.
“He does a ton at the line of scrimmage,” Davis said. “Run-to-pass, pass-to-run. Run this side, run that side. Part of that is how smart he is and then, you hate to say that without talking about how much he works at it, too. You can be smart, but watching film on his own . . .
“I tell them all the time, there’s no way because we’re not pro football players that I can watch as much [film] as I’d like to with you, so you’ve got to do that on your own. He’s done a great job of doing that.
“Quarterbacks like a lot on their plate. It’s fun to give it to them when they can handle it.”
Rudock’s teammates know the homework he puts in. They shake their heads and are glad he does it.
“Sometimes, I wish I was a quarterback at practice,” center Austin Blythe said with a laugh. “At the same time, I know what he’s got to see on the field, low safety, cornerback coming, different linebacker shifts. Then, he’s got to make the right check. If it’s this look, it’s this check.
“I’m not sure I would like to study what he’s got to study as far as being a quarterback.”
Rudock isn’t doing what Peyton Manning is with the Denver Broncos. He doesn’t call plays as much as he adjusts them and spins them into the best possible position for the offense.
This isn’t Peyton Manning-level wizardry, but it is very NFL. How did that manifest itself for Iowa this season (beyond a yards per pass attempt that went from 5.8 yards in 2012 to a respectable 7.0 this season)? Iowa was able to run a no-huddle tempo and increased average plays per game from 66 in ’12 to 72.
“Sometimes, it’s tougher gameplanning, you can’t just go, ‘On 1, here we go, let’s snap the ball,’” said Rudock, passed for 2,281 yards, 18 TDs and 13 interceptions. “At the same time, that’s what the pros are doing. That’s what [New England Patriots quarterback] Tom Brady is doing. Not to compare myself to Tom Brady at all.
“It’s what the professional guys do. They have to walk up and make all these calls. You look back at it and think, I’m doing something similar to them. Makes it feel special.”
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