Beathard’s health raises questions again

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Peter Kim

Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard talks to the media at the Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated Purdue, 40-20. (The Daily Iowan/Peter Kim)

As C.J. Beathard sauntered over to the media scrum after Iowa’s spring football game, he was predictably swarmed with questions about his health.

He had, of course, missed the scrimmage because of an injury, and nearly all the inquiries he fielded regarded his status. A bruised right (throwing) shoulder was the repeated answer, and yes, his groin was feeling fine.

It’s probably to be expected. He is, after all, the starting quarterback at a Division-1 football-obsessed school, and people are going to care about his status.

Not to slight backup quarterback Tyler Wiegers, but the April 23 spring practice showed the Hawkeyes need Beathard at full strength.

“C.J. is his own beast,” tight end George Kittle said with a slight smile. “He’s an amazing quarterback, a great player, a great guy. Nothing against Tyler — he will be good — but it was a different feel with him in there.”

Wiegers threw 2 interceptions and hit just 14-of-28 passes during the spring game, with many of those completions coming on dump-down passes.

It’s hard to take too much from a spring football scrimmage, but Beathard is a proven commodity. He accounted for 56 percent of Iowa’s total offense last year, and he will be asked to do just as much for a team with high aspirations for the season ahead.

Offensive coordinator Greg Davis complimented Beathard’s handling of the offense during an April 20 press conference, noting that he’d been given more control over the pre-snap changes.

“He has a little bit more variety of things now that he can go to if he sees something that he would like to try to take advantage of,” Davis said. “That’s because we trust his decision-making.”

He went on to muse upon just how long it had been since he’d seen his quarterback completely healthy, which was a fair point to bring up.

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Beathard underwent sports-hernia surgery in January and was playing hurt during most of the latter parts of 2015. It’s only added to his legacy, and it sets expectations for what’s to come.

After all, if he can put up solid production with a serious injury, the possibilities (at least in the minds of the Iowa faithful) are nearly endless.

With that said, no one on the team is getting ahead of himself.

It is, after all, just spring football.

“We’re not worried about next season or any opponents or anything like that,” Beathard said. “Last year during spring ball, I felt exactly the same way. I was just trying to improve and get as good as I can be.”

Beathard’s right, there is room for improvement. Deep-passing accuracy has been a question mark at times and was a topic of discussion during Davis’ press conference.

The staff also wants quicker decisions from the quarterback. Part of the issue last year, especially later on, was mobility. Beathard, when healthy, doesn’t hesitate to tuck the ball and run.

He also has an affinity for throwing out of the pocket, a sought-after skill hampered by his medical issues. His ability to move out of the pocket is one of his calling cards and helped direct Iowa to several wins a year ago.

There’s plenty of time to work on the minor things, and if things stay on course, the Hawkeyes’ chances of heading to another elite bowl game increase exponentially.

Uncertainty looms if things go off the map, and the coming season will largely be on Beathard’s capable shoulders, which Iowa needs to stay healthy.

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