CHICAGO – Iowa’s three-man quarterback race remains a dead heat.
Even 15th-year coach Kirk Ferentz is eager to see who wins the starting job.
“They were all pretty even at the end of spring,” Ferentz said during the Big Ten’s annual football media day Wednesday. “So the question is what’s going to happen in August. And the faster a guy can hit the accelerator, the harder he can hit the accelerator, it’s going to behoove him and the big picture.”
Jake Rudock, Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard are in contention to replace James Vandenberg as the Hawkeyes’ first-team signal caller. And Ferentz expects all three to report Aug. 5, the first day of practice, better players than they were when spring drills ended April 27.
“I’m not saying they didn’t know what was going on in the spring, but their knowledge base is a lot more extensive by the end of spring practice than it is at the start,” Ferentz said. “And if they’re doing things right, which I think all three guys are, they’re taking this time now to go back and watch that tape, watch themselves, rethink things out (such as), ‘Hey, if I could do this over again’…
“That’s where that improvement shows up in August.”
Ferentz would like to name a starter 10 to 14 days prior to the Aug. 31 opener against Northern Illinois at Kinnick Stadium.
“Yes, in a perfect world,” Ferentz said, “but I don’t know if that’s going to happen or not.”
Ferentz pointed to 2008, where Ricky Stanzi beat out Jake Christensen as the starting quarterback in a battle that took four games to settle.
“We went back and forth a little bit there,” Ferentz said. “That’s not the perfect world, but (Stanzi’s) our only NFL quarterback. Maybe that’s the best way to get there.”
Asked if he expected to see the starting job switch hands during the season, Ferentz said that won’t be determined until the quarterbacks get a chance to perform under game conditions.
“That’s the ultimate test,” Ferentz said. “I think we’ll just let that play itself out. I don’t want to try and predict that.”
None of the three – Rudock, Sokol and Beathard – have taken a Division I snap. Whoever wins the battle will be taking over a team that is in desperate need of a rebound after going 4-8 last year.
Ferentz doesn’t put a lot of weight on their lack of experience, again looking back to the past decade. Drew Tate led Iowa to a Big Ten title and Capital One Bowl victory in his first year as a starter, in 2004.
“It’s interesting. You go back to Stanzi, and he was 0-for-4 passing in 2007,” Ferentz said. “I looked it up.
“Tate, I think, was 5-for-11 (as a freshman in 2003) in games that really didn’t count. It’s all about how fast they can move forward. But I think all three guys are capable. It’s going to be interesting. I’m anxious to see what happens.”