Quarterback redux


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For much of the season, the Hawkeyes have faced teams with more than one quarterback.

Against Michigan, the Hawkeyes got a taste of two true freshmen in Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson. The following week against Wisconsin, Curt Phillips played a first-half series in place of starting signal-caller Scott Tolzien.

And in Iowa’s first defeat of the season, Northwestern showed the talent it possessed in both Mike Kafka and Dan Persa.

Now, in the regular-season finale against Minnesota, No. 15 Iowa will face a dynamic duo of Golden Gopher quarterbacks that couldn’t be more different in junior Adam Weber and freshman MarQueis Gray.

“It’s tough,” sophomore defensive end Broderick Binns said about facing teams with two quarterbacks. “They’re both great athletes, both good guys, and they’re just different in everything that they do.”

The QB more familiar to the Iowa defense is Weber, who has been a starter since playing as a freshman during Minnesota’s abysmal 1-11 season in 2007. He has started two career games against the Hawkeyes, and in those two contests, he has passed for 37-of-69 and 317 yards. However, only one of those completions was for a touchdown.

He has also thrown three interceptions against Iowa, one of which was taken back for a touchdown last season by Hawkeye cornerback Amari Spievey.

This season, Weber has completed 159 passes in 295 attempts for 2,168 passing yards. Through 11 games, he has thrown 12 touchdown passes, but he also has 14 interceptions.

“The guy is a veteran player. I really thought he was a senior going into this year,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “But he’s starting three years, so that means the guy can throw the football. He’s really good.”

Complementing Weber is Gray. While the former is known more for his arm and setting Minnesota passing records, Gray is much more athletic and at times has played like Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and former Texas quarterback Vince Young, who was recruited by current Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster when he was a Longhorn assistant.

This season, the Indianapolis native is Minnesota’s fourth-leading rusher with 37 carries for 208 yards.

“Right now, with him, it’s more athleticism than total quarterback package, but that will be something that expands and develops,” Ferentz said. “They’re not going to put him back there and throw it 25 times with him. He’s not at that point yet, but he will be soon, I’m sure.”

But as athletic a quarterback as Gray is, the Hawkeyes might catch him at the right time. Just last week, they went up against Ohio State and held the aforementioned Pryor to a mere 29 yards on the ground to go with just 93 yards passing.

“It’s just like getting two weeks of practice for it,” Binns said. “I feel like our preparation won’t be too hard to prepare for him just because last week, we were preparing for Terrelle. I think we’ll be all right.”

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