May Daze: Quarterback

During the long May days sans football, HI takes a look ahead at the Hawkeyes, 2012. Up next is quarterback.

May is notoriously the slowest month for fans of college football. Spring ball is done. Summer workouts haven't begun. Incoming freshmen have yet to arrive.

It's a "May Daze."

There's no sense sitting around and moping about it. You can only perform so much yard work. Let's take a look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, position-by-position, and create some discussion.

Here are the previous installments in this series:

Defensive Backs

Linebackers

D-Line

O-Line

Wide Receiver

Tight End

Running Back

Up next, last but not least, the Quarterback:

  • MOST INDISPENSABLE:
  • It seems like there are a lot of no-brainers like this on offense. James Vandenberg is the easy call here.

    At the open spring workout, you could really see the drop-off between the junior and heir apparent to Ricky Stanzi and the quarterbacks trying to beat him out. No disrespect to John Wienke and A.J. Derby, but neither appeared close to being ready to run a competitive Big Ten offense.

    Guys do make improvements from the spring to the summer camp and into the season. I expect that from Wienke and Derby. But the Hawkeyes would be in a world of hurt if Vandenberg went down, especially in the beginning of the season.

    Vandenberg posted a 1-1 record in two starts after Stanzi was injured at the end of the 2009 campaign. He created the most buzz by making his first career start at Ohio Stadium, where the Hawkeyes took the Buckeyes to overtime before falling.

    Vandenberg probably possesses the strongest arm of any signal caller in the Kirk Ferentz era. He can make all the throws.

    Vandenberg's make-up also seems suited for playing the most high-pressured athletic position in the state of Iowa.

  • TOP BREAKOUT:
  • If the Hawkeye Nation has it's way, there won't be one…at least in sight on Saturdays. The breakout would have to take place during the week in practice.

    Despite a large faction of people waiting for a position change, I think Derby takes big steps forward this season as a quarterback. He experiences enough success that he stays under center for the entire season.

    There's no doubt Derby could help the Hawkeyes at a few other spots. I even think he could grow into a successful defensive end.

    I really liked what I saw at the open spring workout in terms of the improvements he's made in a pro-style offense. He was a running quarterback at Iowa City, City High.

    Nobody knows if he's willing to sit behind Vandenberg for two years and then compete with Jake Rudock as a redshirt junior. Many on-lookers see that as a losing battle for Derby and a waste of talent.

    However, it really doesn't matter what others believe. It's a position with plenty of attrition. Derby will know in his heart if or when it's time to move on.

  • TOP NEWCOMER:
  • Rudock has asked to red shirt this season and Ferentz has said the coaches are on board with that request.

    If Vandenberg can stay healthy and his backups continue to improve, it's probably the best move for everybody involved. It will give Rudock time with the playbook and much-needed exposure to a college strength and conditioning program.

    Much like Derby, this could be a huge year for Rudock even if it's behind the scenes. The work he puts in this fall and next spring could put him in position to challenge for the No. 2 spot in '12 or, who knows, push for the starting spot, depending on circumstances.

    Rudock is used to pressure. He's an alumnus of one of the top prep football programs in the country in Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas. He boasts all the necessary tools to be a success at the college level.

  • THE WILDCARD:
  • Wienke was a highly-recruited quarterback when he committed to Michigan. Then, coach Lloyd Carr retired and the Illinois talent switched to Iowa.

    Carr ran a similar pro-style attack to that of Iowa. He believed Wienke could excel in that system.

    Vandenberg pulled ahead of Wienke during their redshirt freshman season and ended up putting himself on the map with his performance at Ohio State. Wienke has been trying to catch up to his teammate ever since.

    Ferentz has been quick to compliment Wienke on his work ethic and his improvement through the years. He does have three seasons under his belt and a good feel for the offense.

    Who would get the call if Vandenberg went down, Wienke or Derby? It's probably too soon to say for sure. But it's nice to know you have a veteran backup, even if he's inexperienced.


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