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Iowa football: With Vandenberg gone, Hawkeyes’ QB situation now a mystery

[ 0 ] November 24, 2012 |


James Vandenberg

Even though he led Iowa to just a 4-8 record, senior James Vandenberg took every snap at quarterback for the Hawkeyes this season. — Benjamin Roberts / Iowa City Press-Citizen


Iowa City, Ia. — What quarterback inherits Iowa’s six-game losing streak heading to next season’s Aug. 31 game against Northern Illinois at Kinnick Stadium is as uncertain as the future of Friday Hawkeye-Nebraska football games.

One might not be answered until the week before that 2013 season opener. The other will be answered relatively quickly.

Senior James Vandenberg took every snap during a 4-8 season that concluded with a 13-7 loss against 17th-ranked Nebraska on Friday. Backup Jake Rudock watched from the sidelines, as did redshirts Cody Sokol, a transfer, and C.J. Beathard, a true freshman.

“I think Jake has kind of been groomed,” Vandenberg said. “You’ve got Cody, a juco guy who is the oldest and most mature guy in room, but who’s only been with us for about a semester and a half, and C.J., who really has no idea what he’s doing yet, but you can see his natural talent. He’s got a strong arm.”

The Hawkeyes and Syracuse were the only teams that had just one quarterback throw all its team’s passes this season. It’s the first time since at least the 1970s that’s happened at Iowa.

The only other Syracuse quarterback to take a snap did so when Ryan Nassib missed two plays after his helmet popped off, according to the school’s media relations department.

Even during Iowa’s games with large point differentials, Vandenberg continued to play.

“I think that’s really overrated, personally,” coach Kirk Ferentz said of using backups in blowouts. “Any experience is good, but to say it’s going to determine the fate of our season next year — I think there are a lot of things that are going to happen between now and then that will be more important.”

Ferentz doesn’t allow true freshmen or players who haven’t played to talk to reporters. Their thoughts on leading an offense that scored only 22 touchdowns must wait.

That number, incidentally, is 21 fewer offensive touchdowns than Iowa scored last season. So is Ferentz concerned about the program’s future?

“No,” he told reporters after Friday’s game. “Nobody’s happy about where we’re at today, obviously. Big picture-wise — no.”

He said he will evaluate the program like he always does after a season, but stopped short of saying staff changes will be coming.

“We have good coaches, good people,” Ferentz said.

He will offer more reflection during a regularly-scheduled press conference this week, probably Thursday. He won’t know by then, however, when the next Hawkeye-Cornhusker game will be played.

“We haven’t talked about it yet,” athletic director Gary Barta said of discussion between schools. “Playing on a Friday was new to us, (but) obviously a long-time tradition for Nebraska.

“I committed for two years.”

They also played on the Friday after Thanksgiving last season at Nebraska.

An announced crowd of 69,085 for the most recent Black Friday game was the first non-Kinnick Stadium sellout since 67,989 watched a 24-21 victory against Arkansas State in 2009.

Iowa students were gone for Thanksgiving break. Some fans sold their tickets to Nebraska supporters. It was a cold and windy afternoon.

“The jury’s still out as we move forward,” Barta said of another Friday game. “There’s no timeline.

“My guess is (a decision will come) sooner rather than later for everybody concerned.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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