C.J. Beathard Q&A: 'It’s hard to win every game, even if you’re Alabama'
This season hasn’t gone as planned for Iowa and quarterback C.J. Beathard. But the Hawkeyes are coming off a big win at Minnesota, and they control their own destiny in a season that still has lots of promise for the defending Big Ten West champs.
Beathard is just No. 8 in the Big Ten in pass efficiency, hitting 60.3 percent of his attempts for 1,087 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions, a year after leading the program to a 12-2 mark and its first Rose Bowl spot since the 1990 season. He has been knocked around a lot in 2016, but the offensive line has been tweaked and is looking better after the Hawkeyes lost games earlier this season at home to FCS North Dakota State and Northwestern.
The 6-2, 215-pound senior from Franklin, Tennesse, needs to be on target down the stretch vs. a schedule that includes visits from Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska. In fact, the visit from the Cornhuskers could be a de facto Big Ten West championship game. But first up is a visit to Purdue (3-2 overall; 1-1 Big Ten) this Saturday vs. a Boilermaker program coming off a big overtime win at Illinois.
I caught up with Beathard as he prepped for Purdue, a foe the Hawkeyes have dominated of late by winning eight of the last 10 meetings. And Iowa (4-2 overall; 2-1 Big Ten) hasn’t lost in West Lafayette since 2007.
Q: Have you been pleased with the season so far?
A: We’d like to be 6-0 at this point, but there is such a fine line between winning and losing. The coaches tell us that each week. We have been on both sides of the fine line this year. Last year, we won most of those games. We control our own destiny. It’s just a matter of us playing our best football. But we were close to our usual football last week (14-7 win at Minnesota). We were tough the entire game and need to continue to do that.
Q: Was that a season-saving win at Minnesota last week?
A: I think it’s something we can build off. We needed a win like that, a Big Ten win vs. a good opponent. Minnesota is good. We knew it was going to be tough and it was a hard-fought game. If we can build off that win and play hard and tough, we can have a successful season.
Q: How has it been dealing with expectations coming off that big 2015 season?
A: Last year, we had expectations. But all that really matters is the expectations we have as a team and that we put on ourselves. The goals we set, meeting those. … We knew it was going to be tough. It’s hard to win every game, even if you’re Alabama. Whoever you are, it’s not easy to win every game in a season. We knew we would be facing some adversity this season. We encountered some earlier than we wanted to this season and haven’t played as well as we wanted to in a few of the games. But we played our best football against Minnesota and want to build off that and turn the season around by playing tougher and better.
Q: How has the receiving corps performed after Matt VandeBerg was lost to injury?
A: Matt was a great player for us. He has put in a lot of hard work all offseason and all year long. This was his senior season and to have this happen, that is tough on a player. It hurts our team, but others have stepped up. You are always going to get guys hurt every season, I don’t care what team you are. Riley McCarron has done a good job in Matt’s spot when he has been in there. We have to continue and work and get better.
Q: Having watched film of Purdue, what do you think of the Boilermakers who are coming off a 34-31 overtime win at Illinois?
A: They are a good team. They are tough. They are better than they have been in recent years. They have a new defensive coordinator, so they do some different stuff than they have in the past few years. They are having a better season than some they have had of late. And they are coming off a big win at Illinois. That was a big one. We expect to get their best shot on Saturday. We have to be prepared to play our best football.
Q: When you have time, what is your favorite place to eat around campus?
A: I like the Wig and Pen and The Airliner. I also like The Vine (Tavern and Eatery). We go there a lot to eat.