Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, October 9, 2014

If we don?t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. We?ve already heard that phrase. And history also says that playing two quarterbacks almost always fails. Regardless, that?s exactly what Iowa and Wisconsin plan to do.

First, know this: The circumstances between the Hawkeyes and Badgers are different. Iowa seemingly has two capable signal-callers in Jake Rudock and C.J. Beathard. Wisconsin has two quarterbacks who are, frankly, struggling in Tanner McEvoy and Joel Stave.

Despite the difference in the situations, the solution is the same: Pick one quarterback and go with it.

Two-quarterback tangos typically never works. How many times have we heard: If you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterback. Exactly. In fact, I can?t think of an instance in the last 25 years when a two-quarterback system resulted in a team winning a championship. It?s rare for it to work.


Listening to Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz address the situation this week was a bit disconcerting. He admitted that the staff is ?not even sure what the plan is now totally.?

What? Really? Huh?

I?ll tell you what to do, Iowa: Start Beathard. It doesn?t take a football savant to watch games and know which quarterback gets the most out of the Hawkeye offense: It?s Beathard.

Am I missing something?

Beathard comes on in the second half at Pitt and rallied Iowa from a 17-7 halftime deficit to a 24-20 victory after Rudock was hurt. Beathard hit 7-of-8 passes for 98 yards.

The next week in a 24-10 victory at Purdue with Rudock still out, Beathard started and completed 17-of-37 passes for 245 yards with a touchdown and interception.

Beathard?s ability to throw down field loosens defenses, which creates room to run the ball. Iowa had 175 yards rushing vs. Purdue and 133 vs. Pitt with Beathard mostly in command. The Hawkeyes had 151 yards rushing vs. Northern Iowa, 113 vs. Ball State and 129 vs. Iowa State with Rudock under center.

This is a fairly pedestrian Iowa offense to begin with. Big plays are difficult to come by. Beathard gives Iowa its best chance to score big down field.

Isn?t this easy to see? Apparently not. Iowa will forge ahead with some type of plan to play two signal-callers when Indiana visits Saturday in a game that has upset potential for Iowa.

?We'll have (some plan) by Saturday, for sure,? said Ferentz. ?But they're both going to play. We have total confidence in both guys.?

How long will this go on, Kirk?

?Time will tell.?

I just hope Iowa doesn?t have to suffer another loss before realizing this two-quarterback plan isn?t ideal.

The quarterback plot is equally as thick at Wisconsin. Stave and McEvoy have not been told who will start when Illinois comes to Madison this Saturday. But they have split reps in practice this week.

"If I knew what was going to happen, it'd be a little easier," McEvoy told the media earlier this week.

"I'm not sure how they're going to use either of us or how they plan to really split it up," Stave said.

Confusion and uncertainty from the most vital players on offense. Is this good?

While Iowa seemingly has two competent quarterbacks in Rudock and Beathard, does Wisconsin have one? That uncertainty may make what Gary Andersen and his staff are doing make some sense more so than the QB juggle in Iowa City.

?(Offensive coordinator) Andy (Ludwig) and I have discussed it, and Andy has discussed it and communicated with the quarterbacks also,? said Andersen. ?They could possibly both be on the field at the same time. I'm hoping that happens because I think that opens up a little can of worms for people to wonder what's going to happen. So we'll see if that takes place for a couple plays. We'll also play them in different situations.?

The Badgers just need competent play from their signal-caller. John Elway isn?t needed. Heck, Bubby Brister would suffice. But, I digress ?

McEvoy may be the athletic prototype that Andersen is looking for, but he struggles to pass. Stave lacks the nimbleness of McEvoy but is a better passer-though he essentially lost the job in a preseason battle because of a mental block with completing a simple pass despite making 19 career starts.

Stave supposedly is over the ?yips? and was thrust into action last week as McEvoy melted before everyone?s eyes in a hard-to-watch 20-14 loss at Northwestern, which saw the duo combine to hit 12-of-29 passes for 138 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions. Neither looked good, and that casts doubt on Wisconsin?s ability to contend for a West Division title that most felt it was the favorite to win.

How ugly has the quarterback play been? McEvoy has hit 57 percent of his passes for 629 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions. Stave had completed 42 percent of his attempts for 114 yards with a TD and three picks. With a monster running game led by Melvin Gordon, the Badgers don?t need a star passer. Just a game-manager. Not having a top-flight receiving corps exasperates the situation. Add it up, and Wisconsin is No. 13 in the Big Ten in passing (149.8 ypg).

So, why not try something different if you are Andersen, right? Why not try to blend the best of both worlds with Stave?s passing with McEvoy?s running? It makes sense. But, will it really work? Probably not.

?I'm a firm believer now that our offense with where we are with our offense as a whole, not at the quarterback position, we're best served to be able to play both quarterbacks to help Joel (Stave) when he's in there at quarterback, to help Tanner (McEvoy) when he's in there at quarterback,?Andersen said. ?Both of them playing on the offense, and in turn, help them be better.?

The theory sounds great in a meeting room on Tuesday afternoon. But applying it in the heat of battle on Saturday is another matter. I?m skeptical.

If I?m Andersen, I would start Stave. They won with him last year-and they certainly can again. This team needs his passing ability more than it needs McEvoy?s athletic ability.

Stay tuned. Things could just be getting interesting in Iowa and Wisconsin. Their seasons may hang in the balance based on how these quarterback situations play out.

About Tom senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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