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Iowa Notebook: Ferentz quiet on QB plans

BY CODY GOODWIN | OCTOBER 08, 2014 5:00 AM

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Kirk Ferentz makes it a point not to reveal too much. Not every little thing has to be public, he said Tuesday. It’s more of a personal decision.

It makes sense, then, that when asked about Iowa’s quarterback situation (yet again), he didn’t say more than what he already has. Ferentz has an unwavering belief in both Jake Rudock and C.J. Beathard, but refused to say anything more on the matter.

“We’re not even sure what the plan is right now, totally,” the head coach said. “Bottom line, we’ve got two guys that we feel good about. I sound like a broken record on this one.”

Offensive coordinator Greg Davis said last week, during Iowa’s first bye week of the season, both Rudock and Beathard would play. Ferentz said Tuesday that Rudock would start Saturday’s game against Indiana, “unless something happens between now and then.”

When asked if the offense might go with the hot hand or make a full-time decision based on results, Ferentz dodged the question, repeating that he and the coaches believed both quarterbacks would deliver.

“Both guys, to me, have given good results when they’ve played,” Ferentz said. “… We have confidence in both guys. If I had the answer, I’d tell you. We don’t have it yet. We haven’t gone down this road, but we’re about to.”

Defense prepares for Indiana’s offense

The Indiana football team boasts one of the most electric offenses in the country. Most of the unit’s damage has come on the ground, as the Hoosiers are one of just nine teams in the country to average more than 300 rushing yards per game.

Even more, Indiana runs a high-tempo offense that averages 81 plays per game. It presents a test for Iowa — and most every other Big Ten team, at that — which is used to playing smash-mouth football that’s often employed around the conference.

Ferentz said Tuesday the challenge will be replicating that kind of speed and execution in practice this week.

“That’s always a challenge when you face the tempo of a team, No. 1,” Ferentz said. “… It’s very difficult. Certainly we don’t have those kinds of players. If we did, they’d be with our ones or twos, so it’s a real challenge.”

Most of Iowa’s defensive players are looking forward to the challenge.

“First of all, we have to stop the run,” defensive tackle Carl Davis said. “Have to make them one dimensional and make them pass. Then we have to get pressure on their quarterback, make him scared.

“… If we’re getting back there and hitting him consistently, he’s going to feel that.”

Weisman feels fresh

Through five games last year, running back Mark Weisman had carried the ball 119 times for 615 rushing yards. The former figure led the nation while the latter ranked fourth.

After Iowa’s first five games this season, Weisman has just 78 carries — which ranks 60th in the country. That number indicates, more than anything, that Ferentz is sticking to his plan of keeping Weisman healthy and fresh so that he can carry the ball more effectively later in the year.

Weisman said Tuesday the bye week helped with his recovery, both mentally and physically, and that he feels good as Iowa heads into the meat of its Big Ten schedule.

“It’s definitely a good thing,” Weisman said. “It’s been good so far. We just need to get the running game going.”

Linebackers making progress

Last week, defensive coordinator Phil Parker talked about how his linebacking corps had improved since its less-than-ideal performance against Northern Iowa on Aug. 30. That slow start was because of the amount of “stuff” Iowa’s linebackers needed to know and that it took time to jell as a unit.

Ferentz echoed those sentiments on Tuesday, adding that his linebackers have significantly improved since that first week. The younger players, he said, have steadily improved with more game experience.

“It was really Reggie’s first experience, and certainly Bo’s, so I think all those guys are improving,” Ferentz said. “… We’ll keep those guys growing. If they do that, we’ll get better as a football team.”

McCarron told to return punts

Riley McCarron came back earlier than expected from a shoulder injury he sustained in mid-August. McCarron was initially predicted to return during Iowa’s first bye week.

McCarron, just a sophomore, sees the field primarily on kick and punt returns. In the two games he’s seen action in this season, McCarron has fielded one kickoff and eight punts. His one kickoff return went for 36 yards against Pittsburgh, while he’s fair-caught seven of eight punts (the one he did return went for 8 yards).

All seven fair catches came against Purdue on Sept. 27. It sparked curiosity among those who watched because it appeared McCarron had room to return a number of those punts.

Ferentz said Tuesday he hopes McCarron will return more punts in future games.

“Hopefully, we’ll get that train moving a little bit,” Ferentz said. “I think that’s his first game out there, so we’ll get that going a little bit.”

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


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