For the first time in 11 years, and for one of the rare times in school history, a Florida native will start at quarterback for the Iowa football team on Saturday.
Brad Banks is pleased to hand over the torch to fellow Florida native Jake Rudock for the season opener against Northern Illinois at Kinnick Stadium.
“I think it’s a short time,” Banks said. “It’s really only been 11 years. Time flies. That’s a good thing. It’s exciting.”
Banks, 33, created plenty of excitement in his only season as a starter in 2002 when he finished runner-up for the Heisman Trophy and led Iowa to an undefeated record in the Big Ten and to a school-record 11 victories. The Hawkeyes also played in the Orange Bowl that season and in the Alamo Bowl the season before, when Banks was a junior.
The circumstances are different for Rudock, who takes over an Iowa offense that had only seven touchdown passes during last season’s 4-8 campaign.
Banks has some simple advice for Rudock as he steps into the spotlight.
“He needs to be himself,” said Banks, who is from Belle Glade, Fla. “I’m sure he’s doing everything he needs to do to prepare himself for the game and let it all go and have fun with it.”
Banks played as a backup to Kyle McCann as a junior at Iowa in 2001. But Banks also played in 10 games as a junior for a team that won a bowl game, whereas Rudock didn’t appear in a game last season while playing behind James Vandenberg, who took every snap.
In fact, none of Iowa’s quarterbacks have appeared in a game, which is one reason prognosticators are picking the Hawkeyes to struggle in Kirk Ferentz’s 15th season as head coach.
“My thing is it’s a new season, nobody knows — the writers, the media, and whoever else — the naysayers, they don’t know” Banks said. “So it’s a new year, a new football team and these guys are going to come out and give it their best.
“And I’m sure coach Ferentz and his staff are going to have them prepared and ready to play.”
Much has been written and said about Iowa using a no-huddle offense in order to speed up the tempo in Greg Davis’ second season as offensive coordinator. But Banks expects one thing to stay the same, which is Iowa’s long-standing desire to establish the run.
“It helps any quarterback to have a good running game,” Banks said. “So having that core group of running backs and that offensive line is going to definitely help out in a lot of different ways.”
Rudock also should benefit from knowing that he won’t be benched if he stumbles out of the gate Saturday. Ferentz stuck with Vandenberg throughout last season despite the problems on offense.
“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 you be a little more relaxed.”
Banks plans to attend Saturday’s game as part of a special weekend. He is one of six former UI student-athletes being inducted into the Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Friday.
“It’s a big weekend for me,” said Banks, who currently lives in West Des Moines. “I’m excited about it. It should be a lot of fun. I’ll be doing quite a few things this weekend.”
Banks has met Rudock and came away very impressed with the microbiology major. Banks also likes that Rudock, a native of Weston, Fla., played for perennial power St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale.
Rudock’s high school team won three national titles and combined to finish 58-2 during his four seasons at the school. He holds the school record for total yards (5,082), touchdowns passes (73) and completion percentage (64 percent).
“It’s one of the best (programs) in the country,” Banks said. “A lot of great players come out of there. Jake was part of great teams when he played there. So he knows a little bit about winning.”
Reach Pat Harty at 339-7370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football