IOWA CITY, Iowa - As was talked about throughout the offseason, the Iowa coaches scripted C.J. Beathard into a game. The back-up quarterback played the second series in Saturday's 17-13 win against Ball State. And that's all we saw of him.
The sophomore completed 2 of 3 passes for 20 yards. He threw a wonderful deep ball to Damond Powell that was originally called a touchdown but reversed when officials said the receiver failed to maintain possession inbounds.
As what is common in football, some folks have pined for Beathard for the last two years anytime starter Jake Rudock throws an incompletion, misses an open receiver or dares to check down. Fans have loved the back-up quarterback since they wore leather helmets.
Beathard's solid series on Saturday increased the noise for a signal caller switch. However, Rudock leading the Hawkeyes on two touchdown drives in the final five minutes for the come-from-behind victory on Saturday aided his cause in the minds of outsiders. Had he not, we could be witnessing a full-blown quarterback controversy.
"That was the last thing on my mind," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said when asked if he thought there would be one had Rudock not pulled off his magic.
"In fact, I hadn't thought about it until you just brought it up. There were a lot of other things I was thinking about."
Beathard changed the look of Iowa's offense. He ran zone read and challenged Ball State down the field instead of checking down to underneath receivers like the Cardinal defense dictated. On the called-off touchdown to Powell, running back Damon Bullock was wide open in the flat, could have coasted to a first down and possibly scored.
"We never got to it last week," Ferentz said of playing Beathard. "It's something we said we're going to do. Then we get into the game, and when do you do it? We basically thought coming into the game, we'd do second and third series with him and just see where it took us. That's kind of about it."
Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis alerted Beathard while the Iowa defense was on the field that he would be taking the Hawkeyes' second series. Up to that point, he did not know when he'd be given a chance.
"I guess it could have been at any point in the game because I didn't know it was going to be the second series of the game. They just said to be ready. You should get a chance in this game because we worked on it in practice," Beathard said.
Rudock played diplomat in Saturday's post-game press conference.
"It gave (Ball State) a little bit different wrinkle, which is what we were hoping for. It's up to the coaches, whatever they decide to do. Whatever they need," Rudock said.
"Sometimes you're trying to get a rhythm. It can disrupt you're rhythm. But we planned that we were going to use that a little bit today. We did a good job getting down the field. Unfortunately, we didn't get the touchdown."
SCHERFF SCARE: A hush fell over Kinnick Stadium Saturday when star Left Tackle Brandon Scherff lay in a pile on the field. The senior tackled Ball State's Blake Dueitt, who was returning a fumble for a touchdown.
Scherff popped up after making the stop but then fell to the ground. Trainers lifted him to his feet after a few minutes and helped him to the bench. He was then taken to the locker room for X-rays.
"I stood up and my knee locked up. I didn't know what happened and I didn't want to stress anything so I sat back down. I'm alright so it's good," Scherff said.
Scherff was projected as a first-round NFL Draft Pick after his junior season. Recent predictions pegged him as a Top 10 overall selection next spring. He bought an insurance policy before the season should he suffer an injury.
KICKING CONCERNS: Mike Meyer ended his run as a three-year starter as Iowa kicker last season. It didn't receive the amount of concern as did the loss of three senior linebackers. Perhaps it should have.
Iowa kickers are 2 for 6 on field goal tries this season with all four misses coming from inside 40 yards. Saturday, starter Marshall Koehn misfired from 35 and 37 yards. True freshman Mick Ellis replaced him in the second half and failed on a 29-yarder.
"There's nothing we can do other than just keep working at it," Ferentz said. "My point is I've seen those guys do good things in practice. I think they're quality guys. So we've just got to stay with them."
Ferentz was asked who he would have called on had Iowa faced a field goal try late in the game. While he said he didn't know, Koehn provided insight.
"If it was longer, I was going to take the kick," he said. "I just thought I'd been waiting for this moment. I flushed the last two kicks. I was ready to compete and try to put one through for my team."
PARKER PARKED: Jonathan Parker lost two fumbles against Ball State. The first came on a jet sweep that was returned for a touchdown. The second was on a kick return, after which he was replaced by Jordan Canzeri.
Few things irk Ferentz more than fumbles but after the game the coach sounded confident Parker's miscues were an aberration.
"He was involved in a couple of awful plays, but he's practiced really well too. Sometimes you get a young guy that hasn't played and you've got to live with that. I'm not concerned about it just because he's got a body of work right now that's really been impressive," Ferentz said.
SPECIAL TEAMS: How the Hawkeyes lined up on Saturday.
Kick Return- Vandeberg, Parker/Canzeri, Weisman, Kittle, Fisher, Gair, Perry, Hillyer, Hamilton, Krieger Coble, Duzey.
Kick Coverage - Koehn, King, Lomax, Gair, Fisher, Spearman, Perry, Fleming, Bower, Taylor, Niemann.
Punt Coverage: Fisher, Kidd, Kluver, Lowdermilk, Perry, Fleming, Mabin, Plewa, Lomax, Alston, Taylor.
Punt Return: Vandeberg, King, Hillyer, Draper, Gair, Fisher, Taylor, Fleming, Kittle, Niemann, Bower.
EXTRA-POINTS: DE Drew Ott recorded a career-high 13 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss, and one sack. Ott forced a fumble (recovered by Carl Davis) on Ball State’s final play of the game…Kevonte Martin-Manley caught eight passes for 70 yards. He now has 138 career receptions. He passed Ed Hinkel (135) for eighth all-time at Iowa…On Iowa’s final two drives, QB Jake Rudock was 9-for-11 for 81 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 32 yards…Iowa’s 35 completions were the second most under Kirk Ferentz (36 vs. Indiana in 1999).