Three cool things:
1. C.J. Beathard game? Maybe.
So many heady plays from the Iowa QB in this one. Maybe one of the biggest was avoiding a safety late in the first half and eventually running Iowa out of bad field position.
This was Beathard’s second start post the 2014 QB whatever you want to call it. You’d had a taste, but you still didn’t know for sure. Beathard had 77 rushing yards in this game. That ended up being his high in a game. After this, maybe you thought running would be a thing.
Beathard has great feet, but Iowa still isn’t in the business of running the QB. Lots of other teams are, Iowa is not. It does show some read-option looks with Nate Stanley, but Stanley wasn’t put on this earth to run the football.
Then, there was what kind of ended up being the game-winner, Beathard’s 25-yard dime to WR Riley McCarron. Yeah, I said “dime.” I hate popular slang, but that was cray cray.
I’ve probably already done the comparison game way too many times in this, but I’m not sure Iowa has had a QB like Beathard with the way he seemed to be friends with everyone.
I think that was a huge part of his rise and success.
(See feature story below)
2. Maybe when the Hawkeyes locked arms and walked over to retrieve the Cy-Hawk Trophy was when we should’ve known something different was happening in 2015.
In mid-September of 2015, I chatted with punter Dillon Kidd. His 2014 ended with a thud and he wanted to get into his head.
Strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle made the season’s theme “Build an Edge.” They all read the book “The Slight Edge.”
“It’s really just trying to find those little edges,” Kidd said. “Small increments in kicking can change a great kick into a not-so-great kick. Having those guys who can help you with the slight edge stuff that we’ve been working on in the offseason has really been helpful.”
By the end of the season, it was a full-blown narrative. Defensive end Parker Hesse was a redshirt freshman in 2015. He was taking notes, too. Did you know he graduated last year? Super smart, super-trusted voice. If someone can translate the leadership principles that really did push the Hawkeyes forward in 2015, it’s Hesse. Perfect guy for something like that.
Whatever works. Seriously. Whatever works.
3. Remember when Desmond King struggled returning punts? I don’t, either, but I wrote it, so it must’ve been true at some point.
Some very short period of time, like basically when he started doing it. After that, King was such a difference-maker. It wasn’t quite as important as King’s role as a shutdown corner, but it was close.
And in this one, it was a giant boost in the fourth quarter.
King broke up the middle on a called middle punt return and bailed Iowa out of horrible field position, going 34 yards to set up the Hawkeyes at the 50 with 6:08 left. This set up what became the game-winning drive, finishing with Beathard’s 25-yard pass to McCarron.
“He’s stuck with it, we stuck with him,” Ferentz said. “He’s earned that a little bit through what he’s done for three-plus years.”
Quote: “We’re a family, we’re one, solid unit. It’s been in our brains all offseason, finishing together, doing everything together, doing things right over time together. It was just a decision that popped into our minds, let’s do it.” — RB Jordan Canzeri
Note: As far as Beathard as a runner goes, his 100 carries lead the KF era for QBs. His six rushing TDs tie with Nathan Chandler for most in the KF era.
Brad Banks’ 423 yards in 2002 remains the outlier. If Stanley runs for 200 yards this season, he’ll have done some damage. He finished with minus-115 last year. (Yes, sacks fold into QB rushing numbers. Analytics deal with that.)
Why No. 82? — This game was close until the fourth quarter. Probably should be a little higher. Lots of big moments that, yeah, were kind of lucky for Iowa (Matt VandeBerg’s fumble recovery TD).
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2015
AMES — After Jordan Canzeri broke through for an 8-yard touchdown run, the day’s struggle was over. The week’s struggle was over. It was time to celebrate and run like madmen for their first rivalry trophy sprint in their last four rivalry trophy games.
Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard set up the championship formation, took the knee and then didn’t break off like a mad bat to the Iowa State sideline. The offensive linemen didn’t shove each other out of the way trying to be the first to get to the Cy-Hawk Trophy.
Everyone turned around and walked back to the Iowa sideline. Instead of a rally of individuals cruising and crashing into the 100-pound chunk of metal, the Hawkeyes locked arms and walked over in their traditional “swarm.”
It was something organic. It was the only way they could see themselves doing it.
During the week news broke that former Hawkeye Tyler Sash, 27, was found dead in his Oskaloosa home. Iowa wore Sash’s No. 9 on the left sides of their helmets.
They did the swarm after toppling Iowa State, 31-17, before 61,500 fans Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium to honor ... well, really Iowa and whatever it is welds a team together.
It’s very rah rah and maybe somewhat abstract. After 0-for-4 in trophy games in 2014, you just go with it.
“After Canzeri’s touchdown, some of the seniors on the sideline said we were going to swarm to the trophy,” said Beathard, who completed 15 of 25 for 215 yards and three TDs and added 77 rushing yards on 10 carries. “We’re a team. We’re all close, we’re a close-knit group, closest it’s ever been since I’ve been here and that’s four years now.”
Before we get to the celebration, Iowa paid a toll for this victory. Senior defensive end Drew Ott left in the first half with a wrist injury. Running back LeShun Daniels suffered an ankle injury in the first half and didn’t return. Ott came out on the field with his left arm in a sling and wrist in a cast. It didn’t look good. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said it was too early to evaluate either player’s prospects for next week.
The “swarm” eventually made it to the Cy-Hawk. Canzeri was the first to touch it. Probably appropriate, given the fact that the senior ended up Iowa’s last running back standing. Canzeri rushed for 124 yards on a career-high 24 carries with the finishing TD on top of it all.
The swarm to finish it off was a collective decision.
“We’re a family, we’re one, solid unit,” Canzeri said. “It’s been in our brains all offseason, finishing together, doing everything together, doing things right over time together. It was just a decision that popped into our minds, let’s do it.”
The swarm at the end was as well executed as ...
... Iowa’s second-half defense. Iowa State gutted the Hawkeyes in the first half, taking a 17-10 lead while running 31 plays for 244 yards. Quarterback Sam Richardon looked as if he were directing a 7-on-7 drill at practice, with a beautiful 29-yard TD pass to wide receiver Jauan Wesley punctuating things.
In the second half, Iowa held ISU to 66 yards on 31 plays. After recording no three-and-outs in the first half, Iowa (2-0) recorded four and shut out the Cyclones (1-1) 21-0 in the second half.
“I think our folks were covered,” Iowa State Coach Paul Rhoads said. “The pocket escaped him (Richardson) because people were covered and he had to move and slide to try to find somebody who was open and it allowed their pressure to get there.”
Iowa’s swarm was as well executed as ...
... Iowa’s final two scoring drive. This was the redemption period for the Hawkeyes, who outgained ISU, 475-310, in total offense.
Cornerback Desmond King, who looked shaky to bad on punt and kick return and who was trailing on the TD pass to Wesley, blew off all of that and ripped through ISU’s punt coverage for a 34-yard return to set up the Hawkeyes. Junior wide receiver Riley McCarron finished the drive, grabbing a beautiful 25-yard pass from Beathard to give Iowa a 24-17 lead with 2:14 left. In the first half, McCarron dropped a crucial third-down reception.
“I think the biggest thing was dealing with adversity,” McCarron said. “You have a good play, a bad play, you have to put it behind you. Everybody does that, it’s football, man.”
Iowa’s swarm was as well executed as ...
... Beathard. Period.
You could argue he kept Iowa from the bottom of everything in the first half. He did it every which way possible. On Iowa’s first-half TD drive, he erased poor field position with a 44-yard scramble. Then, he finished it by putting a 14-yard TD pass where only wide receiver Tevaun Smith could reach it.
“The most impressive way about the way C.J. played was his poise,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He doesn’t get rattled. It would’ve been easy to get rattled. I’ve seen quarterbacks get rattled here on our team.”
Beathard was one of the last Hawkeyes to leave the interview area. He almost left his backpack behind, which would’ve been a bummer. He took a few steps and pivoted back for it.
The Hawkeyes didn’t forget a thing.
C.J. Beathard feature from 2015
C.J. Beathard a friend to all
CHICAGO — When C.J. Beathard had his long, blond locks, Drew Ott claims he would sometimes braid his hair.
Ott, Iowa’s senior defensive end and a resident comedic genius, may or may not have actually done that. He sure sold the bit during Thursday’s Big Ten media days interviews.
“I used to braid his hair all of the time,” Ott said, straight-faced. “Now that he cut it off, we don’t hang out as much ... No, yes, I hang out with him. He was one of the first guys I met on campus. I’ve gotten to know him pretty well.”
It seems 95 percent sure that the braid thing probably didn’t happen. Still, one of the takeaways here is Beathard, Iowa’s newly installed starting QB, seems to have connections with all 105 players on Iowa’s roster.
During spring break in March, Beathard took senior free safety Jordan Lomax to his home in Nashville, Tenn.
“It was nice to spend time with him and his family,” Lomax said. “It’s a really great family. They’re a big country music family and that was nice. I got hip to a lot of country music.”
The instinct here, of course, is to pitch Beathard as the “people’s QB,” a friend to everyone. And then contrast that with Jake Rudock, the pre-med student who transferred to Michigan this spring after Beathard was named Iowa’s starter in January.
But this isn’t that story.
“That’s probably a family trait,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said of Beathard. “It’s a great, great family. ... he has a good heart. He looks at the world in a way you’d hope all people do. He cares a lot about the people he’s around.”
What did Ferentz mean when he said Beathard looks at the world in a way he wishes other people would?
“He’s an other-people oriented guy,” Ferentz said. “ ... He’s a great teammate and he’s very unselfish.”
You just know he loves dogs and children and wants your support for mayor.
“It’s been fun getting to know him a little better,” center Austin Blythe said.
This is all the nicey-nice, and it’s certainly nice. On the field? Beathard barely has career stats.
Iowa’s QBs, receivers and running backs have been playing 7-on-7 all summer against Iowa’s defensive backs. They’ve probably seen more of Beathard in these two months than the outside world has in games.
“C.J. definitely keeps you on your A game,” Lomax said. “ ... C.J. will definitely give his guys a chance to make a play. ... His arm strength is amazing and he really does use his legs to get out of the pocket and keep plays alive.”