High-Five: Underrated Hawks

This edition of the High-Five looks at the QBs, the most underrated Hawks of '13, the biggest contests this fall and the top five places to eat if you're in Iowa City to watch the game.

Iowa CITY, Iowa - We're two weeks from the opening of Iowa's season and the coaches still have not named a starting quarterback publicly. That's a little scary.

We'll probably get a better idea on the No. 1 when Kids Day unfolds Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium. Unless he's hurt, put your money on Jake Rudock being the guy, even if it's not officially announced by Coach Kirk Ferentz.

The redshirt sophomore took all of the first-team reps in the brief portion of practice the media was allowed to watch last Friday. C.J. Beathard ran the second-teamers. Cody Sokol and Nic Shimonek watched.

Rudock makes a lot of sense at this time. The offense runs its smoothest with him calling the signals. At least that's how it appears when we can watch.

If you pressed me, I would say that Beathard's skill set ranks at the top in terms of what's needed in Greg Davis' offense. The redshirt freshman combines arm strength with the ability to keep plays alive with his feet. When you watch him, however, he just doesn't look comfortable.

I expected more of Sokol, who's college career is on the clock. The redshirt junior offers the best scrambling ability in the group, but his arm lags behind the others in terms of accuracy.

If things play out where Sokol clearly comes in third and it remains that way for the season, he could be a candidate to find a new home in December. He also might like Iowa enough to be a two-year back-up and finish his degree. Who knows.

If Rudock does start against Northern Illinois in the season-opener on Aug. 31, it will be interesting to see how firm his grip on the position will be. It's hard to imagine that his leash will be as long as the one last year for James Vandenberg, who took ever snap despite major struggles.

It's conceivable that Beathard (or Sokol) improves enough early in the season to grab the position from Rudock if he stumbles out of the gate. The audition likely will last beyond Game 1 and the year's final play.

Now that we've sorted out that situation, let's have fun with an installment of the High Five:

Five Most Important Games of '13

1. At Minnesota, Sept. 28 - It's the Big ten opener against a division opponent that many prognosticators feel will be the only team to finish behind Iowa in the Legends standings. Losing this one could pave the way to a spot in the basement.

2. At Iowa State, Sept. 14 - It's the Cyclones.

3. Wisconsin, Nov. 2 - Badgers? We don't need to stinking Badgers. Let's hope there aren't any fake punts.

4. Michigan State, Oct. 5 - They should replace the Kinnick turf with concrete to discourage fake injuries.

5. At Purdue, Nov. 9 - The protected cross-divisional rival is breaking in a new coach. Michigan and Nebraska follow this game for Iowa. Must win.

Top Five Underrated Hawkeyes in '13

1. Brett Van Sloten - Will be two-year starter and an NFL draft pick.

2. B.J. Lowery - Overshadowed by Micah Hyde last year. One of the better tacklers on this defense.

3. Louis Trinca-Pasat - Team's best defensive lineman a year ago. Reminds me of Matt Kroul.

4. Christian Kirksey - Not many guys have the skill set to play all three LB spots at Iowa. He does.

5. Damon Bullock - Nowhere near as popular as Mark Weisman, Bullock is the team's most versatile offensive weapon.

Top Five Restaurants in Iowa City

1. Oyama - The best sushi in the area. Excellent Japanese dishes for non-sushi eaters.

2. Joseph's - Been once courtesy of a gift certificate. Outstanding. It's out of my price range but if you're in a higher tax bracket, have at it.

3. El Banditos - It's all good. Make sure to get the potatoes with rajas as a side. You're welcome.

4. Short's Burgers - Former Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding is an owner. You'll eat well and help support Nate's retirement.

5. Linn Street Cafe - Not the place to go with your boys to pound beers but the perfect spot to snuggle up to your significant other and tie on the feed bag.

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