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IOWA CITY — As of now, Kirk Ferentz doesn’t expect his quarterback to undergo offseason surgery. It’s not a done deal and the Iowa head coach doesn’t know what C.J. Beathard will be able to physically do this spring, but no surgery certainly is better than surgery, even in theory.
Since late September, Beathard operated Iowa’s offense with a hip/groin injury that limited what he could do in practice and in games. Beathard fought through, throwing for 2,809 yards and 17 touchdowns and being named second-team all-Big Ten for the Hawkeyes, who won the West Division last season. So now, with spring practice not starting until at least mid-March, Beathard has some much-needed time to get right.
“That’s why we’re excited to see him healthy,” Ferentz said during an end-of-the-season news conference Thursday. “He was still able to throw the ball fine, but mobility is such a big thing in football. When I was in the NFL, I was around some really good football players who ran out of gas. When your lower body starts to go, it’s not a good thing. Experience and expertise can only make up for so much of that.
“He was a little bit limited that way. I think all of us are excited to see what he can do when he’s fully healthy. Hopefully, we’ll get there and stay there. I know we’re going to get there, but the key is staying there.”
On the subject of surgery for Beathard, Ferentz is hopeful he won’t need it.
“Hoping not,” he said. “Medicine isn’t black and white, but we’re hoping that’s not the case.”
That’s as good of a jumping off point as any for the Hawkeyes’ offseason, which begins, officially, on Jan. 19 with winter conditioning.
Thursday was a much different news conference than the one Ferentz held last January, when the Hawkeyes crash landed at 7-6 after a TaxSlayer Bowl defeat. Ferentz set a new tone with that news conference, which is mostly known as the one in which Beathard was named starter over Jake Rudock, and set it in every step of the way, from practice to recruiting meetings, top to bottom, former Hawkeyes linebackers coach Jim Reid told The Gazette on Thursday.
The bridge of Reid’s time at Iowa spans the highs and lows.
Part of Thursday’s news was Reid’s departure to become defensive coordinator at Boston College, which sits just six miles from his hometown Medford, Mass. Reid spent three seasons as Virginia’s defensive coordinator and was fired in 2012. Ferentz lured him to Iowa with the Hawkeyes coming off a 4-8 season.
Ferentz said Thursday Reid gave Iowa some much needed experience at a delicate period. At the time, Iowa was 4-8 and Phil Parker was coming off his first season as defensive coordinator after 14 years as secondary coach.
“We’re not the same program we were three years ago,” Ferentz said. “The profile that Jim brought to the program (veteran coordinator and assistant) at that time was really important and very valuable ... Jim was a coach with a really broad resume that had a lot of depth to it at all levels. I thought that was really important.”
Ferentz now might be looking for a replacement with a completely different resume.
“We’re in a different state right now,” Ferentz said. “I’m going to try to take my time and think it over and do what’s best for the football team, long-term. It’s a little different scenario than when we were climbing three years ago.”
Asked if he anticipated making any changes to his staff, Ferentz said “We’ll see.”
“Right now, I’m in the infant stages of going through things,” he said. “I want to think things out. Ultimately, we want to do what’s best for our team and give our guys the best chance they can to get coached and make sure our coaches are in the right spots, so they can do the things that best suit their talents and abilities.”
One of the big questions post-Rose Bowl was answered earlier this week when senior cornerback Desmond King announced that he would return to the UI for 2016. King was the most decorated defensive back in the nation last year with eight interceptions. It sounded as if the news traveled from King to Parker and maybe to Beathard before it even got to Ferentz.
“I think there’s a respect between those guys and just I think everybody on the football team had a really strong respect for each other,” Ferentz said. “So when I heard that, that was really a positive thing, as well. I’m guessing C.J. might have been recruiting them. Swear I didn’t put them on it. I don’t operate that way, but I think all the guys are thinking the same way.”
— While Beathard is fending off postseason surgery, two Hawkeyes didn’t. Sophomore center James Daniels and sophomore cornerback Joshua Jackson did have surgery and likely will miss spring practice, Ferentz said. This is kind of a bid deal for Daniels, who’s listed as the No. 1 center.
“He’s done a lot of good things in practice,” Ferentz said. “Naturally, we would love to have him out there for those 15 days, but if he’s not out there, he’ll be able to overcome it.”
— Ferentz said there’s still no word on defensive end Drew Ott and his bid for a medical hardship waiver and a fifth season of eligibility. Ott played just six games after suffering torn elbow ligaments and a torn ACL.
“That’s still in process and really no decision, final decision has been made on that,” Ferentz said. “Needless to say, we’d love to get him back, too, and we’ll do all we can to advocate for him.”
— Ferentz did release a depth chart. He qualified it as a “January depth chart” and said a lot can change. The most interesting switch, perhaps, was junior Boone Myers going from left tackle to left guard. Myers started 10 games at left tackle last season. Senior Cole Croston, who started 10 games at both tackle spots last season, is the left tackle.
Sophomore defensive end Matt Nelson has been elevated to starter. Others making the move to starting roles include Daniels at center, wide receivers Jerminic Smith and Riley McCarron, fullback Drake Kulick, weakside linebacker Aaron Mends and free safety Brandon Snyder.
As it stands right now, walk-ons Miguel Recinos and Colten Rastetter are the kicker and punter, respectively.
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