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Iowa prepares for dual-quarterback system

BY JACOB SHEYKO | OCTOBER 01, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis sat down at the podium, Diet Coke in hand, and addressed the media for the first time since the team’s media day in August. He joked that he’d probably face a question or two about the Hawkeye’s quarterback situation, so he talked about the subject unprompted.

Unlike previous attempts to pick head coach Kirk Ferentz’s brain, Davis gave a fairly upfront answer.

“If we played today, Jake [Rudock] is about 80 percent, so we’d start C.J. [Beathard] if we played today,” he said.

Ferentz said on Sirius XM Radio Tuesday evening that Rudock is still the starter when he’s healthy. The coach also noted that he’s still open to the idea of using both quarterbacks.

Fortunately for Rudock, who is nursing a hip injury, and the rest of the offense, the Hawkeyes don’t play today or even this week. Iowa will be idle this weekend, its first of two bye weeks.

If both Rudock and Beathard are healthy when Iowa resumes action against Indiana on Oct. 11, Davis expects both quarterbacks to see the field.

“We do feel like we have two guys that have earned the right to play and have played pretty well,” Davis said. “So that’s the way we’ll approach it as we get closer.”

In his 41 years of coaching, Davis has dealt with dual-quarterback systems before. At Texas, he coached both Colt McCoy and Jevan Snead, who split time in 2006 while vying for the starting job, following Vince Young’s departure.

Iowa’s coaching staff doesn’t have a set plan on how the snaps will be divided. That will be decided more by feel than pregame planning.

“I think they have earned that right, so that’s what we’re going to do,” Davis said.

Defensive rotations

Iowa has built a habit of wearing down opposing teams as the game progresses. A big reason for this is that defensive coordinator Phil Parker has decided to rotate players more frequently.

This rotation has mostly affected the defensive line and linebackers.

“The defensive line is doing a job where we’re playing more guys,” Parker said. “Jaleel Johnson has gotten in there a little bit.  Faith [Ekakitie] has gotten in there.  So we’re happy and excited about that.”

Parker also noted that most of the early juggling at linebacker was a result of trying to find where players fit best. Parker said Travis Perry was a good example of that, as he moved from outside linebacker to middle linebacker.

“There is so much stuff you have to know as linebackers and safeties, and always being on the same page just takes time,” he said. “The more you do things, the more comfortable you get and understanding that you should see a formation and recognize what they’re going to do to you.”

Wide receivers progress

When Davis was named Iowa’s offensive coordinator in 2012, there was a lack of speed at wide receiver. For the most part, that issue has been resolved or at least improved.

Iowa now boasts playmakers such Tevaun Smith, Damond Powell, and Derrick Willies — not to mention Kevonte Martin-Manley, who may become Iowa’s all-time receptions leader by the time he graduates.

“I think we’re much better at receiver now than we were three years ago,” Davis said. “I think we’re much better. We have more guys that we feel like understand what we’re trying to do and where they’re trying to get.”

Davis also said the wide receivers are further along in pre-snaps reads they’ve been at any time.

Some audibles at the line of scrimmage aren’t just the quarterback making the call but both wide receiver and quarterback making a change together based on what the defense is giving them.

“The quicker they make the decision, the quicker the ball can come out,” Davis said. “But I think overall they’ve made worlds of progress.”

Follow @JacobSheyko on Twitter for updates, news and analysis about the Iowa football team.


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