IOWA CITY — Kirk Ferentz has been criticized for many things over the years.
Having a short leash is not one of them.
So, when the Iowa football coach tabbed Jake Rudock as his starting quarterback, it was probably for the long haul.
“Clearly, by naming Jake, we felt like he was the furthest ahead, and he’s been the most consistent,” Ferentz said Tuesday. “Now this is the ultimate test, what happens in game competition.”
Rudock, a sophomore from Weston, Fla., was declared the winner of a three-way scramble that included redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard and junior college transfer Cody Sokol.
His reward is a chance to open the season Saturday against Northern Illinois at 2:30 p.m. in Kinnick Stadium.
“You’ve been working since high school to get a shot to win in college,” Rudock said. “You get the shot, but you still have to keep working and keep going.
“Hopefully, it’s just the beginning.”
Rudock could have made his Hawkeye debut last season, but Ferentz passed on several chances to give him mop-up duty.
Instead, James Vandenberg took every snap during a 4-8 season and made all 389 pass attempts.
Fans have been clamoring for a peek at Rudock. Now, they should see plenty.
“We’re going to let him play,” Ferentz said. “We have confidence in both C.J. and Cody, but Jake is going to play, and we’re going to let him go.”
Rudock will conduct an offense that averaged just 310.4 yards per game last season (114th nationally) and 19.3 points (111th).
He’s facing a Northern Illinois defense that recorded 39 sacks (2.79 per game) and forced 27 turnovers.
It doesn’t appear, however, that Rudock will have to look over his shoulder.
“The fact is, you’re going to make mistakes,” Rudock said. “Every single guy on the field makes mistakes.
“Knowing how coach Ferentz is definitely helps — helps you be a little more relaxed.”
Rudock can also take comfort in having spent more than a year in offensive coordinator Greg Davis’ system.
“We know how to spit back what he would say,” Rudock said of Davis’ terminology. “He’ll say certain words, and we’ll respond in a certain way.
“You have to understand that his terminology is the easiest way to talk to him. Just like learning a new language.”
Last season was a bit of an anomaly for Ferentz.
In his previous 13 years, at least two quarterbacks contributed to the passing statistics.
Kyle McCann and Brad Banks provided a nice mix in 2001, while Ricky Stanzi and Jake Christensen spent the first half of 2008 dueling for the job.
Most of the time, though, Ferentz’s support of a starter was firm.
What does that mean for Beathard and Sokol?
“Anything can happen,” Beathard said. “I’ve got to take each rep that I get and make the best of it, because you never know.”
Rudock likely earned the starting nod because of his poise and savvy.
The more Ferentz talked Tuesday, the more Rudock sounded like his kind of guy.
“He communicates well,” Ferentz said. “He’s not an egghead, if you will. He’s a smart guy, but he’s also a guy who prepares, and he’s very serious about what’s in front of him.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football