STARTER: C.J. BEATHARD
BACK-UP: TYLER WIEGERS
OTHERS: RYAN BOYLE, DREW COOK
INCOMING: NATE STANLEY
2015 GRADE: B+
ANALYSIS: It was a strong year at the position for Iowa despite the injuries that occurred to Beathard. He managed the offense well and got everyone in the correct spots and made teammates around him better, but he did much more than that. He was more than the game manager tag that many labeled him. He also made plays, through the air and with his legs. His injury took away what he was able to do on the ground at times but he still found ways to win and mustered enough offense. Beathard also does not receive enough credit for his arm. It's stronger than most realize as evidenced by the bomb he threw for a touchdown to Tevaun Smith in Indianapolis against MIchigan State.
The grade does not jump into the elite status because Beathard is not there yet but with another year he's fully capable of receiving an 'A' this time next year. He has to stay healthy and consistently produce on the ground and in the passing game. If he avoids injury and is operating at 100 percent for a full slate of games there's a lot more yards and production for this offense. With better decisons and not locking into receivers, there's less interceptions and mistakes. With a more prolific passing game, there's more space and opportunity for the running backs.
His toughness is an 'A'. His playmaking ability in meaningful situations is an 'A'. His leadership is an 'A'. His mobility when healthy is an 'A'. His arm talent is an 'A'. Now the decision making, health, and consistency in the passing game needs to catch up.
OUTLOOK: Another year of Beathard is a great thing for the Iowa offense, especially with the question marks at wideout. It'll be a process and possibly some growing pains with the new faces on the outside but their senior quarterback should help mask those early deficiencies. Without him returning to the helm, and there's a glaring need for playmaking ability. Without him, there's a glaring need for offensive production. With him, some of that goes away. His presence alone makes 2016 another strong potential year.
Tyler Wiegers is the back-up and he was able to take the first-team snaps in a few different weeks which dramatically aided in his development. That helps him become more acquainted with the offense, more comfortable, and gives him an understanding of the speed of the game. It'll be his show for a year or two once Beathard leaves.
Ryan Boyle got the second-team reps when Beathard was unable to practice, kind of showing what the pecking order is between him and Drew Cook. He'll have to battle Wiegers for the responsibilities in 2017 and 2018. He may get a chance to shine at some point.
The incoming freshman is Nate Stanley and he may be the most promising prospect the Hawkeyes are bringing in for the Fall. He has fantastic arm strength, is a terrific athlete, and has a sensational football IQ. He's someone that could be drafted for the MLB this year and also could be a Division-I prospect for basketball if he wished to pursue that avenue. He's a rare athlete.
His challenges will be learning the offense, becoming comfortable with the team and the college life, developing chemistry with his teammates, and growing acclimated to the speed of the college game and the elevation in competition. He plays high school football in Wisconsin so he'll be undergoing a big leap in that regard. However, this is a very, very talented player that could potentially vie for playing time once Beathard exits or in a year or two following that. Barring any surprises in the offseason, he'll redshirt his first year in Iowa City.
"I think I made a lot of improvement. There's been periods over the last few years where I've made strides. Spring ball was a big step for me, fall camp was a great learning experience. Throughout this year, I was ble to get repetition with the ones. It was a good year for me." - Tyler Wiegers
"(The period I've improved the most) was probably this season, especially with the reps I got with the ones. It wasn't necessarily (when I got in games), but when C.J. was banged up and I got the practice reps. There were weeks when I got most of the first team reps. The Northwestern week was. Northwestern was a big week for me." - Tyler Wiegers
"You know, I'll be the first person to tell you this, when you look at a quarterback you look at two things. You look at wins and efficiency. You don't look at yards, or touchdown passes, or all those flashy things. Does he win football games? Does he turn it over? Does he make the throws on third down to get you a first down, does he make the scrambles on third down to make a first down? How good is he in the red zone, does he make the touchdown pass or touchdown run that you need? How good is he at directing the protection? Does he make sure you're in the proper protection? That's what great quarterbacks do. (C.J. Beathard) checks all of the boxes." - Stanford head coach David Shaw
"My hopes would be the best players we've had in our program, and I think C.J. (Beathard) has an opportunity to be one of those players, the best guys we've had in our program have had their foot to the floor board every day here. Just start to finish. You know, just look at the wall right there (at the consensus all-americans), at least the guys that I know personally, that's how they thought. They are all about improvement and pushing forward and there's not a player or coach that can't get better. And that's how C.J. is wired, fortunately. That's why he's got a chance to be a great player in our history. He's already done some unbelievable things." - Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz