IOWA CITY, Ia. – One snapshot does not define a career. Keep that in mind when Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock throws his first pass Saturday against Missouri State at Kinnick Stadium.
The last time we saw Rudock, he was trying to drive his team down the field to break a 27-27 tie against Northern Illinois a week ago. It was his first college start. His first college game. His first chance to be big man on campus.
He threw an interception instead, and the Huskies converted it into the winning field goal. In the hours after the game, Rudock was upset with himself. But at some point — he doesn’t remember exactly when — he wisely let it go.
“It’s over, keep the head up, keep the shoulders back and be ready to go,” Rudock told himself. “Because the next week is already here.”
Rudock’s ill-timed pick reminded Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz of Chuck Hartlieb. Ferentz was Iowa’s offensive line coach when the Hawkeyes played Tennessee in the 1987 Kickoff Classic.
Coach Hayden Fry rotated three quarterbacks that game. Hartlieb got his first action in the second quarter, after a turnover gave Iowa the ball on the Vols’ 2-yard-line. Three plays later, Hartlieb’s pitch was picked off by Tennessee’s Darrin Miller and returned 96 yards for a touchdown. Iowa lost that game on a last-second field goal, too, 23-22.
“It didn’t stop his career and didn’t stop Chuck from being a really successful player,” Ferentz said.
Hartlieb still holds Iowa records for passes, completions,yards gained, and total offense in a game and a season. Ferentz sees a lot of Hartlieb in Rudock.
“I don’t want to give Jake too much credit yet, but they’re high-caliber guys, and he’ll bounce back,” Ferentz said. “He’s a tough-minded individual.”
Rudock emerged from a three-quarterback race of his own to get the starting job. His 256 passing yards in his college debut were the most for an Iowa quarterback in the last 16 games. Only time will tell if he walks in Hartlieb’s shoes.
Hopefully, someone will get a chance to walk in Rudock’s shoes today.
That didn’t happen last season, when James Vandenberg took every snap from center. C.J. Beathard and Cody Sokol share the backup on Iowa’s depth chart. Who is No. 2?
Hopefully, we’ll find out Saturday.
Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter (@ByRickBrown) from Kinnick Stadium on Saturday.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football