Chuck Long has a message for the quarterbacks competing for the starting position on the Iowa football team:
“It all gets back to not making mistakes,” said Long, a former All-America quarterback at Iowa in the mid-1980s. “I’ve always felt with a young or a brand-new quarterback, don’t beat yourself. You’ve got to learn not to beat yourself before you can beat the other team.”
Iowa never won fewer than seven games during a season with Long starting at quarterback under former head coach Hayden Fry. Long had the luxury of playing for the same offensive coordinator throughout his college career, with current Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder having served in that role at Iowa from 1979-88.
“They had a great mix,” Long said of Fry and Snyder. “Bill was always a taskmaster and very detail-oriented. And Hayden added that flair and that fun atmosphere of just trying to keep the pressure off.”
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz changed offensive coordinators before the start of last season, replacing Ken O’Keefe with former Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis. O’Keefe had held the position for the previous 13 seasons before being hired to coach receivers for the Miami Dolphins.
The transition on offense led to some rocky moments last season, when Iowa finished 4-8 and 2-6 in the Big ten. The passing attack never got on track, as evidenced by senior James Vandenberg throwing just seven touchdown passes after tossing 25 as a junior.
“I think they have to settle the offense down first,” said Long, who, in addition to working for the Big Ten Network, also was recently hired by an insurance company in Cedar Rapids. “They had a mix of philosophies last year. I think Kirk wanted to hold on to some elements of the old offense, and yet, he wanted to progress towards more of a spread type.
“And now I believe they’re doing some more hurry-up in that offense, which I think will be good for them, to try to keep some defenses off balance. The thing about the hurry-up is it helps you when you don’t have the speed that you want.”
Sophomore Jake Rudock is listed first on the depth chart at quarterback, although Ferentz said the competition is still too close to call between Rudock, junior Cody Sokol and redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard.
“I think you should always try to get it down to two as quickly as possible,” said Long, who used to be the head coach at San Diego State and was a former offensive coordinator at Oklahoma and Kansas. “And I see that as an ongoing evaluation, meaning it may not be until game three or four before they settle that one down. They may have to play a couple guys in those early games.”
Long, 50, thinks Davis will benefit from having a year of coaching at Iowa under his belt and from the addition of Bobby Kennedy as the receivers coach. Davis and Kennedy worked together at Texas.
“I think, to some degree, Greg felt all alone last year,” Long said. “He went into a room and didn’t know anybody.”
Long said avoiding a second consecutive losing season would be a nice accomplishment for his alma mater, which he led to a No. 1 ranking for six weeks as a senior in 1985.
“If they can win six games, it think that will be a great year for them,” said Long, who finished runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1985.
CAMERON WILSON UPDATE: Ferentz would neither confirm nor deny a rumor that redshirt freshman receiver Cameron Wilson had left the team.
Wilson confirmed it himself, though, by telling Hawkeye Insider.com in a text message Wednesday afternoon that he planned to transfer to a different school.
Wilson didn’t give any reasons for why he has decided to transfer. The Dublin, Ohio native figured to be in the mix at receiver this fall after performing well during Iowa’s spring game in late April.
INCOMING FRESHMEN UPDATE: Ferentz is optimistic that all of Iowa’s incoming freshmen will qualify academically.
“As far as I know,” he said.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football