IOWA CITY — It took the words of a six-year old to take a little of the sting off what transpired last weekend at Kinnick Stadium for Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard.
Not long after the senior took a physical beating on the field and an emotional one after a last-second loss to North Dakota State, his sister Tatum had something to tell a brother she refers to as “Goo Goo.’’
“I’m all down and broken up about the loss, my sister, she’s six, comes over and says, ‘Goo Goo, guess what?’ I said, ‘What Tatum?’ and she’s like, ‘I got three pictures with Herky today.’ She has no idea what just happened,’’ Beathard said. “It’s moments like that when you realize the world is going to keep spinning and life goes on.’’
The Hawkeyes are moving on as well, hoping another week of work on the practice field and the return of two starters on the offensive line will lead to better protection for Beathard as Iowa prepares for Saturday’s 11 a.m. Big Ten opener at Rutgers.
Defensive pressure and timely blitzes created issues for Beathard and the Hawkeye offense last week against North Dakota State. During Iowa’s 2-1 start, six sacks have slowed or stalled Iowa drives.
One of the blitzes by the Bison resulted in Beathard getting blindsided as he threw, leading to an interception by MJ Stumpf for a pick-six during the first half.
The last resulted in a nine-yard loss that forced a punt in what proved to be Iowa’s final offensive snap of the game.
Beathard said both should have been picked up by teammates before he was leveled.
“The blitzes should have been picked up by the offensive line. Those are things we see all the time, things we prepare for,’’ Beathard said.
“For whatever reason, it didn’t happen. It’s hard to see when they’re coming off your backside. Honestly, I didn’t see (the one that led to Stumpf’s interception) at all.’’
Beathard has a lost a total of 34 yards on 11 carries so far this season.
Situations haven’t called for it, but he remains ready and healthy enough to run with the ball whenever needed. Last season, Beathard gained 237 yards on 100 carries as an effective part of Iowa’s attack early in his junior year.
Against North Dakota State, Beathard did take a beating when he scrambled for a four-yard gain on a third-and-three play in the third quarter.
The play forced him off the field for a handful of snaps, and X-rays taken Sunday showed no damage to his shoulder or collarbone, allowing Beathard to resume normal game-week preparations.
And whenever the Scarlet Knights send a blitz his way, Beathard expects to be ready for it.
Film study generally gives him an idea of when opponents are most likely to blitz and what type of blitz to expect.
“I know when certain blitzes are coming, but I feel they should get picked up,’’ he said. “I shouldn’t have to worry about it.’’
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said a couple of breakdowns in mechanics led to Beathard taking more of a beating than he needed to in the North Dakota State game.
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“There were a couple of mechanical breakdowns involved there that need to be straightened out and have to be straightened out, without getting too specific,’’ Ferentz said. “They’re coachable and fixable and they’re important obviously. They were both important plays.’’
If the Hawkeyes hope to add to a collection of six wins in Big Ten openers over the last seven seasons, offensive tackle Ike Boettger said Iowa must regain an offensive tempo and rhythm that was absent last week against North Dakota State.
“That cohesion that needs to be there for whatever reason was missing last week,’’ the junior from Cedar Falls said. “Some of it is the attention to detail, the little things that make a big difference. We all saw and understand now what happens when that isn’t there. We’ve got to get it cleaned up, sooner rather than later.’’
Boettger described Sunday’s film session following the North Dakota State loss as “hard to watch.’’
He said Iowa has to learn from situation at the onset of the Big Ten season.
“That’s the way we have to approach it. We have to do a better job of communicating and working together,’’ Boettger said. “It takes 11 guys all being on the same page to make it work and we need to get back to that point.’’
Boettger expects more blitzes to come the Hawkeyes’ way.
“Until we prove we can deal with them, I’m sure that’s the way it will work,’’ he said. “We’ve got to be able to pick them up. That’s part of our job. It’s something we’re working to get down this week. We have to.’’