IOWA CITY, Iowa — Jake Rudock senses growth, but the hustle and bustle of game preparation deny the University of Iowa quarterback much of an opportunity to look back on his first season as a starter.
“So much of it right now is pushing ahead, getting ready for the next game,’’ Rudock said. “I’m sure once the season is over I’ll have a chance to look back and study some things, but right now everything is so focused game to game and week to week.’’
Rudock’s numbers illustrate improvement behind center this season for the Hawkeyes.
Through 10 games, Rudock has completed 167-of-279 passes for 1,916 yards and 14 touchdowns in addition to rushing 49 times for 188 yards and five scores. He has been intercepted nine times, one more pick than James Vandenberg threw a year ago.
Rudock has thrown twice as many touchdown passes as Vandenberg had a year ago, and his completion percent of 59.9 percent is nearly three percent higher than the success rate Iowa had out of the quarterback position last season.
“We’re encouraged by the way Jake is doing things,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Ferentz didn’t have to look far to find an example.
Rudock’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Kevonte Martin-Manley that gave the Hawkeyes a 14-7 halftime lead at Purdue a week ago was exactly the type of pass that Rudock might not have completed earlier in the season.
Veteran Boilermakers cornerback Ricardo Allen played off of Martin-Manley, attempting to bait Rudock into a throw. Allen jumped, but Rudock delivered the ball with enough zip in order to score the strike to Martin-Manley and deny Allen a game-changing opportunity.
“It was a big-time throw,’’ Ferentz said.
Ferentz views that as an extension of the season-long progress he has seen from the sophomore.
“Jake has done a lot of good things and we have liked the way he has competed, the resiliency we’ve seen in his approach to the game,’’ Ferentz said. “He has shown an ability to take things as they come, good and bad, and move forward and has a brought a degree of toughness to the position.’’
That has allowed the offense as a whole to grow and given teammates the ability to operate comfortably with Rudock at the controls.
“As important as anything, his teammates have shown a great deal of confidence in Jake and developed a respect that is necessary for any quarterback to be successful,’’ Ferentz said. “That speaks to how he performs and how he leads.’’
After being given Friday and Saturday off during the Hawkeyes’ second bye week of the season, Iowa returned to the practice field Sunday to begin preparations for Saturday’s game against Michigan.
For Rudock, it presents another opportunity for the Hawkeyes to take another step forward.
“We’re still looking to find that balance between the run and the pass. It hasn’t been there yet, but it is something we work toward every week,’’ Rudock said. “We’re working on getting better in the red zone, it’s an area we have to improve in if we want to become as good of a team as we can become.
“We have all the confidence in the world in Mike Meyer kicking it through when he’s needed, but we need to become more productive as an offense in these next two games.’’
Iowa ranks 10th in red zone production among Big Ten teams, scoring on 77.5 percent of its trips inside the 20-yard line while ranking 11th the league in scoring at 26.6 points per game.
“We’ve got work to do,’’ Rudock said, “but because we realize that, we have a chance to get better.’’