IOWA CITY --- Iowa’s offense spent the majority of Saturday’s spring scrimmage at Kinnick Stadium testing out a no-huddle, hurry-up attack.
But after watching the three candidates to replace James Vandenberg at quarterback work in the last of the Hawkeyes’ 15 spring practices, coach Kirk Ferentz remains in no rush to select a successor.
Jake Rudock, Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard all had their moments as Iowa worked through its first four-quarter spring public scrimmage in a decade, but all also displayed to the estimated crowd of 16,500 why Ferentz expects this competition to last until at least the midpoint of fall camp.
“Everything remains clearly cloudy,” Ferentz said. “The one thing we have right now is time. We don’t need to make a decision now, so we’ll wait and hopefully all three of them will continue to work and get better.”
As expected, all three quarterbacks were given an opportunity to “own their series” in the offense vs. defense format used for the scrimmage. That provided each with a chance to move the offense in situations they might find themselves in during a game.
Rudock led the offense on two touchdown drives, including hitting six straight passes during the final minutes of the scrimmage to complete a 17 of 27 passing performance. He also lost a fumble forced by Riley McMinn that Melvin Spears recovered on the 6-yard line.
Sokol rushed for a 2-yard touchdown and completed 13 of 18 passes, including a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jake Duzey in the fourth quarter that followed a pair of passes covering 57 yards to Cameron Wilson.
Beathard connected with receivers on 10 of 19 tries, including a 46-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Canzeri midway through the third quarter. He also led the offense to a 38-yard Mike Meyer field goal.
“I think we’re all pretty comfortable out there, getting better, but we know we have a lot of work to do,” Sokol said. “None of us really expected anything to be decided this spring. The work we put in this summer and what we do in fall camp, that’s going to decide it.”
Ferentz believes that will happen, as well.
He expects to sit down with offensive coordinator Greg Davis and discuss the quarterback situation during the upcoming week, but he anticipates a rotation of the three will continue into August.
“I don’t foresee us being in a position where we would go with two guys,” Ferentz said. “I think at some point in August, we will make a call and get the team ready to play our first game. It’s not a situation where it is dividing the team. Everybody seems to like working with all three guys. I think we all want what’s best, so there aren’t any issues there. We’ll make a call when it’s appropriate.”
Ferentz will also decide later just how much no-huddle offense Iowa will use in the fall.
He said it has been an experiment of sorts this spring, but has also enabled the defensive staff to help prepare its players for the inevitable situations where it will face that type of attack in the fall.
“There has been some benefit there,” Ferentz said. “I don’t know if it has helped our quarterbacks or put more pressure on them and it is something we may or may not use in the fall. We’ve had our share of days this spring where the way we’ve looked, there is no way I would use it, but we’ll see.”
Rudock believes all three quarterbacks have made progress working in the no-huddle arrangement.
“We’ve spent quite a bit of time in it this spring and we’re starting to pick it up,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing, something that is helping us move the ball.”
Sokol has some familiarity with the no-huddle, running it at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College.
“It’s a good way to keep the pressure on the defense,” he said. “I like it, and we’re all getting used to that pace.”
Ferentz liked what he saw from the Hawkeyes’ running backs, with Canzeri running strong again to complement the work of Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock.
Michael Malloy, cleared this week after missing initial spring drills with a foot injury, saw significant action in the backfield, as well. The redshirt freshman from Sioux City Heelan scored on a 1-yard run, as did fullback Macon Plewa.
“We’ve got a lot of backs who are running hard,” Weisman said. “We’ve got good depth and that pushes us all.”
Ferentz believes all the competition is sparking individual growth he hopes will eventually lead to separation at the contested positions.
“We’re all working to give the coaches a tough decision,” Sokol said. “I’m not going to venture a guess as to how it might turn out. It’s too soon.”