It is pretty simple at the quarterback spot. C.J. Beathard is the man. He lead the Hawkeyes to the Rose Bowl a year ago and it is his show until he graduates. Tyler Wiegers gets the nod behind him just like he did a season ago. The third spot gets interesting with Ryan Boyle lining up at wideout in the Spring Game. Head coach Kirk Ferentz spoke afterwards on that decision and said it may not be a permanent one. We're going to say it is. But to be safe, Drew Cook is 3A and Ryan Boyle is 3B.
Incoming true freshman Nate Stanley is very talented but expected to redshirt. Iowa is in problems if they need him in his first season in the program.
We didn't need to see much of C.J. Beathard this Spring to know what he brings to the table. There's no mystery in his game at this point and he showed off his impressively strong arm throughout the Spring.
Tyler Wiegers showed that he's much more comfortable in the offense and it was clear that much more of the playbook is now at his disposal. He doesn't have the cannon that Beathard impresses but he does have the ability to make nearly throw. He knows the offense, has a good arm, stands tall in the pocket and has a thick build, and the next step will be decision-making. He made a few costly errors in the Spring Game. His performance was far from sharp but he was operating at a disadvantage, having an inexperienced offensive line to work with against the ones on the defensive line.
Drew Cook's progression seemed drastic. He completed many passes and was efficient with the football. That would not have happened a year ago. He's made great strides. One thing that does jump out is that he probably does not have the arm talent that Beathard and Wiegers possess. However, he's more than serviceable. I'm not sure he's ever going to be more than a capable back-up, but those are extremely valuable. Having a quarterback that can come in and contribute in a pinch is extremely important and that may be his role throughout his career.
Ryan Boyle is just athletic, pure and simple. And that was on showcase in the Spring Game when he reeled off a few highlights from the wide receiver position. It is also evident by the Iowa staff's experiment of him on kickoff coverage. He's going to find the field in some way and it just may be at wide receiver. The question will be how soon does that happen? He's got some hurdles to clear before he's a significant contributor at wideout. Can he accomplish all that before the opener? Time will tell.
Iowa arguably has the best quarterback in the conference heading into the year, along with Ohio State's J.T. Barrett. It's an important position and if you have that spot figured out, you're ahead of the game. The firepower at wide receiver needs a bit of a facelift but having Beathard under center should help push that development along further than anticipated. He has a great offensive line to work with and some home-run hitting ability in the backfield. Beathard's presence alone should aid them in finding points when they need it.
If they can find rhythm and chemistry, they can put up a lot of points in a few games where the opponent is overmatched. That could be key. Keeping Beathard rested is important. They were fortunate he fought through the injuries a year ago because they don't go 12-0 without him on the field. He needs to stay healthy. A few decisive wins would be instrumental in him staying on the sideline a bit more this year and getting Wiegers more game reps to be ready a year from now.
Beathard is the guy and gets all the meaningful reps when games are tight. However, I think Iowa will have some games this upcoming season that aren't so tight. They'll want to get Wiegers all the reps they can so that is imperative.
So one of my bold predictions will be that C.J. Beathard gets first-team all-Big Ten at quarterback and stays healthy. They lose Austin Blythe and Jordan Walsh but the line is still intact and should be more apt in pass protection. That will help him elevate his passing numbers to a level deserving of the honor.