Confident Beathard takes the reins

BY DANNY PAYNE | APRIL 02, 2015 5:00 AM

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Since last season, Iowa’s quarterback situation has been well-documented. There was the controversy over whether Jake Rudock or C.J. Beathard should start, followed by the transfer rumors, but now things are clear.

Rudock intends to use his final year of eligibility at Michigan, and Beathard is Iowa’s undisputed No. 1 quarterback — and the junior-to-be spoke like it Wednesday.

“Obviously, Jake’s decided to transfer, I wish the best for him,” Beathard said. “… It’s become my team, so I’m taking that leadership role. In some ways it’s easier to lead when you’re not trying to split reps and do all that stuff. So I like it.”

For Beathard and the rest of Iowa’s offense, having a definitive starter is going to create a cohesive unit. Last year, there was always the lingering thought that there could be a quarterback change during a game, and receivers had to prepare for different timing from two signal-callers
And of course, it dominated the talk around Iowa City for a good chunk of last year. Was it a distraction for the Hawkeyes? Maybe that’s too strong of a word, but they definitely could have done without it.

“It kind of bugged us — the fact that everyone was asking about it,” wide receiver Tevaun Smith said. “But we kind of already knew. Just the fact that everybody was asking was, I guess, annoying for us.”

Now that Smith and the receivers have their guy, the next question in Hawkeye fans’ minds has to do with potential changes in the way Greg Davis’ offense is run. Smith said he would love the chance to catch more deep balls, but that’s ultimately up to the coaches.

As those who watched the two quarterbacks last year know, Beathard is more likely to throw the ball downfield for his receivers to make a play. So there could be more throws traveling over 30, 40, or even 50 yards.

“You can’t ever think that he’s not going to throw it deep,” safety Jordan Lomax said. “He will give his receivers a chance to make a play on the ball … sometimes, you might think he’s not going to throw it deep. With C.J., he will throw it deep.”

But what Beathard said he wants more of isn’t through the air — it’s on the ground. He wants the opportunity to run the ball and make plays with his legs. That may not be a bad idea, either. The 6-2, 209-pounder isn’t going to burn defenders with his speed, but he did rush 28 times for 156 yards last year — more than 5 yards per carry — and can be dangerous if put in the right situation.

“I feel like I can do things with my feet that will help us,” Beathard said. “When I get the green light and I see the opening, I’m going to take that chance.”

Whether Beathard’s big arm or his speed bring Iowa a successful season remains to be seen, but with a week past in the spring and a noticeably confident Beathard as the guy, Iowa’s hoping for big things.

“I knew something would happen, hopefully, eventually,” Beathard said. “I knew my time was coming … Hopefully, from here on out, we can win Big Ten championships and stuff.”

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

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