IOWA CITY, Iowa Jake Rudock didn't take a snap during his redshirt freshman season. It's not because he didn't want to.
The 6-3, 215-pound sophomore had his helmet on and chin strap buckled against Minnesota, but it didn't happen. He never made it that close to game action again. And, yeah, he wanted to play. Of course.
"Yeah," Rudock said in the "no duh" kind of way. "Not playing for two years, you definitely want to play. That's the fire in all the guys here. We all want to get on the field and help the team in whatever way we can."
Iowa's passing game struggled. Quarterback James Vandenberg struggled. And Rudock sat.
"It is what it is," said Rudock, who shared first-team snaps with redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard during Wednesday's practice, Iowa's fifth this spring. "I think the way coach [Kirk] Ferentz handled it was good. He showed a lot of loyalty to James. Coaches don't listen to fans, no matter what people think. Coaches shouldn't. They get paid to make decisions and I support all of his decisions 100 percent."
Rudock is right. It is what it is and now Iowa goes into 2013 with a three-man race at quarterback, none of whom have taken a snap in a game. A QB hasn't started a game at Iowa without a previous snap since Jon Beutjer made his debut at Indiana in 2000.
Rudock and Beathard shared snaps Wednesday. Junior Cody Sokol also is very much in it. Rudock was the No. 2 last season, took repetitions behind Vandenberg and prepared as though he would start at any moment. Ferentz said earlier this spring that experience has given Rudock an edge.
Rudock was asked if he thinks it's his job to lose.
"I look at it as my position to win," he said. "All of us are looking at it that way. Coaches have told us from Day 1, it's an open competition. We have to take each day as it comes."
On the offense, Rudock's comments suggest that offensive coordinator Greg Davis' passing schemes have been better digested by the players.
"I'd say we're learning the nuances of the offense rather than just getting it down," said Rudock, who threw for 5,083 yards and 73 TD passes in his prep career at St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). "We're actually learning the reasons behind things. Why certain routes are run certain ways against certain coverages."
First-year wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy gave reporters a taste of some of the process during his news conference Wednesday.
"OK, the first thing when you go out and get a line is is it double safety or single safety?" he said. "If it's a double safety, now your focus moves to the corner. You know what the play is, you know where you're going, but now how are you going to react off the corner? He can do one of three things: He can backpedal, he can stay hard, he can be in man coverage. There's not much, right? There's not much mystery to that.
"If you look at the double safety look, OK, then you see the corner, you say, OK, he's going to do probably one of these two things, backpedal, stay hard. Now, you take your release off that. Now, you read the defense from there."
Kennedy said when he first asked his WR group what they looked to do off the line of scrimmage, he got crickets. The goal is to make it easier for everyone, including the new QB.
Rudock said the playbook has been slightly tweaked. He also believes he has a good idea of what it will take to move this offense through the air.
"Accuracy and knowing where to go with the ball," Rudock said. "Like most offenses, there's a particular read for a particular coverage. Sometimes, you have to read it out. Others, you have to make your decision really quick and know where the hots and sights are."
In the quick passing game when the receiver isn't open, Iowa QBs will look to extend the play, but that doesn't necessarily mean run the ball.
"I'd say no more than normal," Rudock said when asked if QBs will run more. "If it's not there, you have to tuck and run or throw it away or somehow extend the play, keep it going, keep it alive if you can. You watch the NFL guys and they're great at it, moving the pocket but still having their eyes down field and getting 2 yards, which is better than zero."