"With opening day just over two months away, there are still a number of starting spots up for grabs. We’ll have a position preview and breakdown of every camp competition from now until the season kicks off on September 2nd against Wyoming, starting with this question-who will be the team’s signal caller?"
The biggest question mark entering the 2017 season for the Hawkeyes is who will fill the void left by the departed C.J. Beathard. Following the footsteps of the fan favorite and all conference performer will be no easy task, replacing a future third round pick rarely is. However, Beathard regressed significantly his senior season from a statistical standpoint, throwing for almost 1,000 less yards, twice as many interceptions, while completing 5% less of his pass attempts than he did during his breakout junior campaign.
With that information in mind, it shouldn’t be unrealistic to expect the next Iowa quarterback to be able to eclipse Beathard’s 2016 numbers, 2,000 yards with a 60% completion percentage shouldn’t be too much to ask. It’s worth noting that many of Beathard’s struggles were outside of his control, the play calling of former offensive coordinator Greg Davis was suspect and the wide receiver play was very disappointing, but the numbers are what they are, and it’s feasible that this years starting quarterback can surpass them.
But who is the new quarterback going to be? According to Kirk Ferentz in his end of spring ball press conference, neither of last season’s reserves Tyler Wiegers or Nate Stanley were able to separate from each other during spring practice. Wiegers came to campus in the fall of 2014, where he took a red shirt year before stepping in as C.J. Beathard’s backup in 2015. Nate Stanley played well enough as a true freshman in practice last season to surplant Wiegers as Beathard’s backup, and the coaching staff was hopeful that he would continue to progress and take the reins by the end of spring ball. That didn’t happen, and after both youngsters struggled, a third name has popped up in the conversation.
True freshman quarterback Peyton Mansell arrived at campus earlier in the summer, and although it’s unlikely, the youngster from Texas is an option to be the opening day starter. He threw for over 2,500 yards and 33 touchdowns in just 12 games while completing 70% of his passes in his senior season, playing against the highest level of high school competition in the state. While Mansell is the shortest of the three, he is also the considered to be the best athlete, and if he is truly as tall as he is listed as (6’2) he’ll be plenty tall enough. However, he has yet to prove that he can play with the big boys, the jump from high school to the Big Ten isn’t an insignificant one.
The Hawkeyes haven’t had this much uncertainty at the quarterback position since Ricky Stanzi left town after the 2010 season, and that led to a 4-8 year with James Vandenberg in his senior year behind center. Let’s hope that whomever wins the starting job fairs better then that.