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Harty: Most football teams will go only as far as their quarterback takes them

[ 0 ] August 27, 2013 |

The most important player on the Iowa football team kept reporters waiting for nearly an hour in sauna-like conditions Tuesday.

When sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock finally arrived at the indoor practice facility, he was immediately surrounded by a curious throng of media members.

No other player on the team — not even standout running back Mark Weisman — could’ve kept reporters waiting in the oppressive heat for as long as Rudock did.

Rudock spent about 30 minutes answering all sorts of questions in preparation for his first start in Saturday’s season-opener against Northern Illinois.

There was one question, however, that Rudock skillfully avoided. The Florida native wanted no part of answering whether a football team can have success without its starting quarterback performing well, even though the answer is obvious.

“That’s a tough one,” Rudock said. “I don’t want to say my position is any bigger than anybody else’s. The fact is the center touches the ball on every single play, too. And that’s the most important thing at the start of the play is getting that snap.”

No disrespect to centers because they are sort of like an ignition switch for the offense. But it’s common knowledge that most football teams will go only as far as their starting quarterback takes them.

“I can’t think of many teams at many levels where that’s not true,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s an important position. I’m not minimizing that position by any stretch. I think what you expect a quarterback to do differs based upon experience and that type of thing, what you ask a quarterback to do.

“But it’s hard to play I think no matter what style of offense you have, unless you just have like 10 dominant players at the other positions. But it’s really hard to win without good quarterback play.”

A starting quarterback is to a football team what a good chef is to a restaurant. In both cases, you’re likely headed for trouble if the level of performance leaves something to be desired, whether it be a losing record or a gut ache.

Iowa has had eight losing seasons since 1980. In five of those seasons, Iowa’s leading passer threw for fewer than 2,000 yards. James Vandenberg was one of the three exceptions last season, passing for 2,249 yards. But he also threw only seven touchdown passes and benefited from playing a 12-game regular-season schedule instead of the previous 11-game schedule.

The 1986 season was the last time Iowa won at least nine games without getting significant contributions from the quarterback position. Mark Vlasic was hampered by injuries throughout the 9-3 season, but still led the team with a modest 1,456 passing yards.

In choosing Rudock as his starting quarterback, Ferentz went with not necessarily the best long-term choice, but the safest choice for now over redshirst freshman C.J. Beathard.

It’s up to Rudock to seize the opportunity as a third-year sophomore.

Play well and stay healthy and team success almost certainly will follow.


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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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