MINNEAPOLIS — Jake Rudock wasn’t flashy. He made several clutch throws and one bad one.
But the bottom line is this: The sophomore from Weston, Fla., is 2-0 on the road as Iowa’s starting quarterback.
“You get a little butterflies in your stomach (on the road),” Rudock said. “But I’ve always seen that as you want to do good for your team. You put so much time and effort … you just want to good for them.”
He did them proud Saturday.
Praised as a leader by his teammates, Rudock showed that he was more than a game manager in Iowa’s 23-7 victory at Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. He scrambled for a 4-yard touchdown on third-and-goal and threw a 74-yarder to Damond Powell, not only validating his own coach’s decision to start him but impressing the one on the opposite sideline.
“Iowa is a better football team than they were a year ago,” said Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, whose team lost to the James Vandenberg-led Hawkeyes 31-13 a year ago. “(Rudock) is a more mobile quarterback than who played last year. They had a good quarterback last year, but Rudock plays the game differently and makes a lot of calls on the line of scrimmage.”
Rudock won a tight offseason battle to beat out C.J. Beathard and Cody Sokol as Iowa’s leading signal-caller. He hasn’t given coach Kirk Ferentz any reason to change his mind five games into the season.
The Hawkeyes are 4-1 under Rudock’s direction. He was 15-of-25 passing Saturday for 218 yards.
“Guys are getting more comfortable,” he said. “I’m getting more comfortable.”
Where Rudock was especially comfortable was on third downs when Iowa needed to — and did — put away Minnesota after taking a 17-0 halftime lead.
Rudock directed a 15-play, 75-yard drive that consumed 6 minutes, 42 seconds and was keyed by three big third-down conversions:
–On third-and-9, he hit Jacob Hillyer for 14 yards.
–On third-and-8, he lobbed a nine-yard completion to Kevonte Martin-Manley.
–On third-and-10, he scrambled to his left and raced for 22 yards up the sideline.
Those are the kinds of plays that shorten the game, wear down opposing defenses, quiet a hostile crowd — and produce wins.
“When you can quiet them up a little bit just by getting that conversion, that’s huge,” Rudock said. “(Ferentz) really stresses the importance of third-down efficiency.”
That’s not to say Rudock was flawless. He made a major gaffe with Iowa up 20-7 when he threw toward Tevaun Smith into double coverage and was picked off by Brock Vereen in the end zone. It was Rudock’s fourth interception of the season — three of them have come in the fourth quarter.
“Just a little late on it,” Rudock said. “He came flying across and made a good play. Just a little slow with it.”
But Rudock made up for it. He led Iowa on a field-goal drive, highlighted by an 18-yard strike to Martin-Manley on third-and-9.
“Outside of (the interception), I can’t think of a bad play he had,” Ferentz said. “He does a lot of things subtly that you probably don’t notice. He does a good job of getting us where we need to be.”
Most importantly, the win column.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football