Point/Counterpoint: Should Jake Rudock have played against Penn State?

BY DI STAFF | OCTOBER 23, 2012 6:30 AM

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During Iowa’s drubbing by Penn State, fans were practically begging for a change. Jake Rudock, Jake Christensen. Hell, even Jake Gyllenhaal may have satisfied Iowa faithful near the end of a 38-14 bludgeoning at the hands of Penn State on Oct. 20.

Anybody but James Vandenberg.

Vandenberg struggled throughout the game, bottoming out after three quarters. The senior had completed just 9-of-23 passes for 120 yards and an interception at that point, and he couldn’t get comfortable in a pocket swarming with Nittany Lions. The Hawkeyes were down 31-0 and had shown no signs of life on either side of the ball.

So why was Vandenberg still in the game, all the way to the end? Head coach Kirk Ferentz would like people to believe the Keokuk native is the clear-cut No. 1. And he very well may be; how would I know any differently?

But why risk injury to your top guy in the fourth quarter of a game that was over before halftime?

Maybe Vandenberg will get things turned around in his final campaign, but he’s gone after this season. There are two quarterbacks — redshirt freshman Rudock and junior-college transfer Cody Sokol — expected to battle for the starting gig next season.

Why not get one of them a little game experience? What’s it going to hurt?

Iowa fans are the only ones still asking those questions. The Hawkeyes are the only team in FBS that has yet to give the backup quarterback a single snap this year. There haven’t been many opportunities to get Rudock or Sokol into the game in 2012, but Oct. 20 was one of them.

Vandenberg played poorly against Penn State, maybe his worst game. Are the backups so far behind that it was still preferable to leave him in for the whole game and risk injury?

The Hawkeyes could realistically enter the 2013 season with a pair of quarterbacks who have zero snaps on their résumés. That’s not something that will excite Black and Gold faithful. 

— by Tork Mason


What good does it do to pull Vandenberg? The senior has put in the time, this being his second season as a starting quarterback, and he proved that he can be successful in the competitive Big Ten, throwing 25 touchdown passes a year ago.

Alas, it’s a tale of two seasons for the Keokuk native — he has thrown just 3 touchdowns to 5 interceptions this year.

Some say perhaps his worst performance came this past weekend, where he was 17-of-36 for 189 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. The Hawkeyes were 2 for 12 on third downs against Penn State, 0 for 3 when going for it on fourth.

Many were calling for backup Jake Rudock to be thrown out to the wolves, letting the redshirt freshman get some experience under center, however frightening that could be.

Coach Kirk Ferentz’s decision to keep his backup sidelines was the right one. That’s why he’s getting paid the big bucks.

The sight of Vandenberg, the undisputed captain and leader of this Iowa football team, heading toward the bench would be too devastating a spectacle for the members of the squad to bounce back from. Who else but he would keep the offensive line in check? Who else but he would be able to read Michael Mauti at the pre-snap? Who else but he would kill a bear with a bow?

It’s my theory that the revamped system under new offensive coordinator Greg Davis is the culprit to blame for this sputtering offense, not the quarterback.

Remember in the 2010 national championship game when Texas quarterback Colt McCoy went down with an injury early in the game? True freshman Garrett Gilbert was called upon to run Davis’ system to a victory, but alas, the Longhorns fell, 37-21.

If Vandenberg is struggling in this complex offense, what makes people think Rudock could do any better? The coaches don’t, and they see him every single day in practice.

— by Ben Ross

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