IOWA CITY, Iowa - All of the other Hawkeyes had conducted interviews and left the practice facility on Tuesday afternoon. The media gathered around, waiting for its final subject.
Jake Rudock strolled through the door, smiling as the crowd surrounded him. He calmly answered the flurry of questions without the slightest show of nerves.
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz is hoping his sophomore quarterbacks handles himself as smoothly on Saturday when he takes his first-ever college snap against visiting Northern Illinois (2:30 p.m. CT, BTN). He was named the starter on Friday after competing with junior Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard, a freshman, during camp.
"My high school coach always said I was very business-like, whatever that means," Rudock said. "I'm smiling with all of you guys (in the media) right here. But during a game, I'm not really smiling until hopefully at the end if we won."
Rudock's steadiness is one of the reasons he'll be leading the first-team offense in the season-opener. If open spring and summer practices are any indication, he best grasps the playbook and the unit runs smoothest with him at the controls.
"Clearly by naming Jake last week we felt like he was the furthest ahead and has been the most consistent," Ferentz said.
Quarterbacking comes with criticism. Rudock doesn't have the biggest arm. He's not Michael Vick or RG III when he tucks it an runs.
Rudock's intelligence was focused on Tuesday. Ferentz explained that the classes is quarterback is taking were above his mental capability from his college days.
"He's not an egghead, if you will," Ferentz said. "He's a smart guy but he's also a guy who prepares, and he's very serious about what's in front of him and does the same thing academically. You see guys go both ways, but he kind of takes care of all the details.
Rudock's skill set doesn't scream superstar or highlight film. He's already being tabbed as football's version of a crafty left-hander in baseball. He feeds into it himself when asked how he approaches his job.
"Just to play football; manage the game; do what you can; do what the defense gives you," he said. "That's one of the big things Coach (Greg) Davis has talked about. If they're playing deep and giving you the check-down, you might have to take the check-down. If they're coming up, you might be able to take a shot downfield."
Davis talked about getting bigger plays out of his offense all off-season. While Rudock is cerebrally capable, he's not in there to simply hand off the ball or throw a high-percentage screen pass and let others carry the load.
"We're going to let him play,' Ferentz said. "He's earned that over time. Again, we have confidence in both C.J. and Cody, but Jake is going to play, and we'll let him go."
While Ferentz said the quarterback play would continue to be evaluated throughout the season, he did not sound like a coach looking to make changes anytime soon. There's a thought that maybe Beathard, who has some loud skills, might better wrap his mind around the playbook and pass Rudock on the depth chart.
"I don't envision us making this a three-ring circus or anything like that," Ferentz said. "But if that's what it takes, that’s what it was in '87, so if that's what it ends up being, that year was a three-man competition, '08 was a two-guy competition, and right now we're just going to see how it unfolds, see how things go."
Beathard said on Tuesday that he is the No. 2 quarterback right now despite Sokol being listed as the co-second-teamer on the most recent depth chart. He supported Rudock and felt like he still has growing to do as a college quarterback.
"Since spring, I've taken a big step forward to fall," Beathard said. "I feel so much more confidence in myself and how I run the offense. But I need to continue to get better throwing the ball; mentally, seeing blitzes; studying film, all that kind of stuff."
Rudock led his Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas team to a mythical national championship his senior season. He red shirted in '11 and last fall served as the back-up to James Vandenberg, who took ever game snap.
Beathard red shirted in '12 after arriving on campus last summer from Tennessee. Sokol red shirted in the fall after enrolling at Iowa a year ago January following two seasons at Scottsdale (AZ) Community College.
A rumor of a significant injury on the team began circulating on message boards during the weekend. If it happened, Ferentz did not let on to it on Tuesday.
The coach said that the team suffered through some minor injuries during camp but he expected everybody to be at practice on Tuesday.
Ferentz said that he expected to play true freshman LeShun Daniels and JUCO transfer Damond Powell but was unsure if they would use any other first-year players this weekend.
"Defensively, we're still mulling a couple things over," the coach said. "We have a candidate or two, but we haven't finalized that yet."
Ferentz didn't indicate how much or in what ways they would employ Powell, who showed off impressive speed at the kids day scrimmage a few weeks ago.
"We figured out he's fast pretty quickly," Ferentz said. "It's been fun to watch him climb the ladder. Would have been really neat if he was here in the spring; he'd probably be further down the road. But he's doing a good job."
-Ferentz said that Jordan Walsh will start at right guard but that Andrew Donnal also would see snaps at that spot on Saturday.
-Ferentz said they will take extra measures for hydration and keep an eye on players during this week's extremely warm temperatures in Iowa City.
-The captains for Week 1 are James Morris, Christian Kirksey, Mark Weisman and Brett Van Sloten.