IOWA CITY, Iowa – They receive too much credit when a team is winning and too much blame during rough times. The quarterback usually is a focal point of most football discussions.
That turned out to be the case on Wednesday when Iowa Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis met with the media. From Starter C.J. Beathard to back-up Tyler Wiegers to true freshmen Ryan Boyle and Drew Cook, the veteran coach took quite a few inquiries about his signal callers.
Davis expressed his pleasure with first-year starter Beathard’s play and the improvement of the other three guys. Beathard became the first quarterback in school history to win his first eight starts after the No. 12 Hawkeyes (7-0) dumped Northwestern, 40-10, on Saturday.
"From a tangible standpoint, his ability to get the ball to his second and third receivers," Davis said when asked what part of Beathard’s development has most pleased him. "I felt like at the line of scrimmage he would do a great job. But his leadership has been pretty remarkable starting in January."
The junior from Tennessee has completed 114 of 187 passes for 1,415 yards and nine touchdowns with three interceptions this season. He’s also rushed for three scores. His leadership and ability to make plays at key moments have complemented his solid statistics.
"Well, coming out of August, I felt (he could trust Beathard) but until you go play in a ballgame, you don’t really know for sure. I mean, until you put the quarterback out there with the band and the lights on, you’re not sure," Davis said.
"Somewhere in the third or fourth game, it wasn’t like it was an epiphany, it was okay, he understands taking care of the ball, and understanding when he should take a shot and when he should not."
Beathard missed most of last week’s practice time with various lower body injuries. Wiegers took most of the first-team reps until Beathard returned to workouts on Friday.
"Tyler has continued to grow from spring ball to camp through the season, and he would have been ready to play. I mean, in terms of getting us in the right plays and all that," Davis said.
Wiegers played most of the fourth quarter with the game in hand at Northwestern and Beathard dinged up. The redshirt freshman completed one of two passes for 22 yards.
Davis said Boyle took the second-team practice reps last week with Wiegers running the first unit. The West Des Moines (IA) Dowling product would have been called on if the top two guys were unavailable, Davis said.
Davis was quick to tap the breaks when asked if Boyle had moved ahead of Cook based on him being the next man in.
"I wouldn’t read a lot into that, quite honestly," Davis said.
Davis added that the coaches plan to red shirt both true freshmen. Despite outside anticipation that Cook will change positions, Davis said he expects he and Boyle to be at quarterback next season.
Here are some other highlights from Davis’ media session on Wednesday:
-Davis credited Beathard, the running backs and the line for helping create explosive plays this season (Iowa leads the Big Ten with 12 plays of 40 or more yards), but he added that the fullbacks and wide receiver blocking has helped a great deal.
-Asked what the offense will do with when all four running backs become healthy, Davis said it will play itself out and it’s too early to tell. LeShun Daniels, Jordan Canzeri, Derrick Mitchell Jr. and Akrum Wadley all have shown they can produce this fall. Daniels (ankle) was expected back for Maryland (Oct. 31) but Canzeri (ankle) was said to be doubtful by head coach Kirk Ferentz.
"Typically you like to go into a ballgame with two guys that you plan on using, and then some kind of 3rd-down back situation," Davis said.
-A similar logjam could pop up at offensive tackle when Boone Myers and Ike Boettger, the Game 1 starters, return from injury. Cole Croston is filling in nicely for first-year starter Myers at left tackle and now has similar experience with three starts under his belt. James Daniels also is filling in nicely at guard with Sean Welsh kicking out to Boettger’s right tackle spot.
"It gives you confidence that we can roll Cole in there and that he can play at a high standard. Hopefully when they all get well, then we can work some kind of rotation where we’re getting them all on the field and they’re all staying healthy," Davis said.
-Tight end Jake Duzey has been limited since off-season knee surgery. Davis said the senior has made strides recently.
"We were just looking at the (Wednesday) morning practice (film), and I thought Jake looked like Jake this morning" Davis said. "Now, we were not in full gear, but I think he is getting really close. But you know, Henry (Krieger Coble) and George (Kittle) are both playing really well, too, but you can never have too many good tight ends. Hopefully we can find more out about Jake over the next two weeks and get him back into the rotation."
-Much was made of offensive line coach Brian Ferentz adding run game coordinator to his duties this off-season. Davis downplayed its significance.
"There hasn’t been a bunch of change, quite honestly. The line coach, at least in the places I’ve been, has always kind of been the run game coordinator, whether or not there was a title or not. Brian is an extremely bright guy and has done a great job with the line. How it’s worked, it’s worked pretty well. He and I work pretty close together. But we had for the first three years, also," he said.