IOWA CITY — The Iowa quarterback position sounds as though it might be somewhat open.
Maybe, maybe not.
Junior Jake Rudock finished with 2,383 passing yards, 18 TD passes and 13 interceptions while guiding the Hawkeyes to an 8-5 record last season. After Rudock suffered sprained knees against Wisconsin, Nebraska and LSU, sophomore C.J. Beathard replaced him. Beathard brought home a win at Nebraska, Iowa’s first since in Lincoln since 1943, and couldn’t overcome deficits against the Badgers and LSU.
The bottom line is Rudock has a considerable lead in the experience department.
“The good news to me is right now we have confidence in both those guys, they both have proven that we can win games with them, put them out there as starters and win games with them,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said during his Wednesday signing day news conference . “That being said, C.J. still has some catching up to do. Jake has really accelerated.
“The one thing we didn’t know about either of the guys was their physical toughness. Jake certainly proved that. We don’t want our guys to get hit in practice, that’s just how it is. He more than proved that. I think C.J. did too. We feel good about those guys.
“We’ll let them both compete. It’s only fair to both of them that the best guys start. . . . I expect both those guys to play better next year and compete even harder, so that is going to be a good thing for our football team.”
Ferentz said that every position is open. He kind of joked about offensive tackle Brandon Scherff, who will return to Iowa for his senior season after flirting with the NFL, but that stands everywhere else.
“Every position on our football team will be open when we get going in the spring,” he said. “The guys know that. They’ve been told that. That’s just how it works. This is a competitive exercise.”
– Ferentz was asked during his if any players who were on the roster at the end of the season weren’t coming back: “No news to report there, but it’s not unusual to have some transition. We may have that during the course of spring, but no real news story there.”
– Waukee offensive lineman Ross Reynolds (6-3, 290 pounds) will be a grayshirt recruit, meaning he’ll come in next fall and pay his own way and then go on full scholarship and start practicing with the team in January 2015. Contacted Wednesday night, Reynolds said he could still end up on an immediate scholarship and will know more after spring practice.
– Ferentz said safety Anthony Gair had hand surgery recently and might begin spring practice in a cast.
– A couple of things about spring practice: Iowa has targeted the last week in March for the start of spring, possibly March 26.
Just as it did last year, Ferentz said Iowa is planning a spring practice at West Des Moines Valley High School. “We’ll have more to announce on that,” he said. “We’re excited about that, great feedback, and I think second weekend of April we’re looking to go in there.”
That would put Iowa’s spring scrimmage at the end of April, likely April 26, but that has yet to be determined.
– Despite several reports to the contrary, Iowa offensive line coach Brian Ferentz still is Iowa offensive line coach. Several media reports had him taking the O-line job with the Houston Texans and head coach Bill O’Brien.
Ferentz (tight ends coach) and O’Brien (offensive coordinator) worked together for the New England Patriots.
“I’m not going to get into the details of it, but I’m thrilled he’s here,” said Kirk Ferentz, who doesn’t expect any changes on his staff going into 2014. “I’m thrilled our whole staff stayed intact. You never know what’s going to happen, but I feel confident we’ll all be together at the start of next year.”
– On the 2013 recruiting class: Ferentz said running backs Akrum Wadley and Jonathan Parker did nice things in bowl practice and on scout team, but he was interested to see how they’d handle themselves as full-time backs in Iowa’s offense.
Wadley (5-11, 170) and Parker (5-8, 175) also are on the smaller side.
“It’s a matter of what they can do running on our offense,” Ferentz said. “We have to learn more about them. They’ve got to physically mature a little bit and move along in that direction.”
And on the four wide receivers who’ll be redshirt freshmen this spring (A.J. Jones, Derrick Willies, Andre Harris and Derrick Mitchell): “Not singling one guy out, but Derrick Mitchell made a good catch at our practice [ESPN announcer and Super Bowl-winning coach] Jon Gruden attended down there in Tampa [before the Outback Bowl]. I’m sure he was looking at the depth chart and figuring these coaches aren’t very smart. That kid looks like a good player, wonder why he’s not playing.
“We’ll let those guys compete. The next question is they’ve shown some requisite ability, now they have to know everything to do with the offense, audibles and those kinds of things. They shouldn’t be at the level of Kevonte [senior wide receiver Martin-Manley] at this point, but how far can we push them in August to get them to compete and enter into the mix? That would be great for our football team.”
– Remember the “Raider” package? It was the three-man rushing scheme that defensive coordinator Phil Parker used to generate a rush on the quarterback last fall in passing downs. Sophomore Reggie Spearman was a mainstay in the Raider because he showed pass-rushing skills.
No, the 6-3, 225-pounder isn’t moving to defensive end. Not right now, anyway.
“Never say never, but our intention right now is to play him at linebacker,” Ferentz said. ” . . . We felt it was good to get him on the field, get him active, get him a role so he’ll be better prepared and more confident to compete for a job this spring. Our intention is to keep him at the linebacker position.”