Iowa CITY, Iowa - This is the first in a series of positional breakdowns as Iowa gets ready for spring football. Today, it's quarterback:
Roster - James Vandenberg, RS Sr; John Wienke, RS Sr; Cody Sokol, TR Jr; Jake Rudock, RS Fr.; Kyle Anderson, RS Fr. (Walk-on); C.J. Beathard, TR Fr.
Key Losses - None.
Contenders - Vandenberg, Rudock, Sokol.
Favorite - Vandenberg.
Breakdown - There's an old saying in football that the quarterback gets too much credit when a team wins and an unfair share of blame in losses. Vandenberg is a living example of this belief.
Some fans and media came down hard on the Keokuk native when the Hawkeyes finished up at 7-6 last fall. He was criticized for decision making, especially as it pertained to reading the blitz.
Some of those knocks were warranted. Vandenberg looked like a deer in headlights, at times, when things went bad.
People should remember that Vandenberg was a first-year starter. Despite him having the previous three years in the system to develop, it's different when the bullets are flying. And he performed well when one takes that into consideration.
Vandenberg's 25 touchdown passes ranked third in Iowa history for a single season. His 3,022 yards through the air rated fourth. Those numbers came with just seven interceptions.
Although the team didn't perform better during Ricky Stanzi's senior year as it did when he was a junior, Vandenberg's predecessor improved a lot between those two seasons. He then was drafted into the NFL.
Vandenberg can make all of the throws. He's not the most mobile guy in the world, but better read and recognition skills should allow him to make a jump forward in 2012.
Rudock and Sokol are unknowns, but they're talented. I think it would take an injury or a significant collapse by Vandenberg for either of them to see meaningful snaps this coming season, but stranger things have happened.
Rudock came to Iowa with more fanfare than did Sokol, but I expect a dogfight between the two, and possibly Beathard, in '13. If Sokol redshirts, that could give Rudock a leg up in that competition as he'd likely be the No. 2 behind Vandenberg this fall.
Outlook - This shouldn't be an area of concern for the Hawkeyes.