All those hoping for a glimpse of Iowa backup quarterback C.J. Beathard got their wish in the second half of last week's 59-3 blowout over Western Michigan.
Beathard wasn't the only reserve to get extended snaps against the winless Broncos.
For the first time in years, Iowa (3-1) was able to put away an opponent early enough for its backups to see significant playing time. After jumping ahead by 42 early in the second half, the Hawkeyes used the rest of Saturday's easy win to get players valuable experience — and give their starters some rest.
Iowa (3-1) opens Big Ten play at Minnesota (4-0) on Saturday.
"You can get as many reps in practice, but game-time experience is a different type of thing," running back Mark Weisman said. 'It's probably been a while since we've been able to do that here."
Even though quarterback Jake Rudock hasn't put up gaudy numbers, he's done more than enough to solidify his grip on the starting job. Still, it took just one throw for Beathard to show why Iowa's coaching staff is excited about his potential: He found Damond Powell on a 54-yard reception, dropping the ball in a perfect spot for Powell to make the catch in stride while hugging the sideline.
Beathard also showed some mobility, carrying the ball four times for 30 yards while leading what was largely the second-team offense.
Those reserves helped the Hawkeyes match their largest margin of victory under coach Kirk Ferentz.
"I don't see any downside," Ferentz said. "It's a nice opportunity for them to get out there and play, and I thought that for the most part they had a pretty good account of themselves. "
The lopsided outcome also gave running back Jordan Canzeri a chance to prove he can still help the Hawkeyes. Canzeri, who missed all of last season with a knee injury and fell to third on the depth chart, led Iowa with 73 yards rushing and a touchdown on 13 carries.
For freshman Leshun Daniels Jr., a blowout helped give him a second chance after an early fumble that could have doomed him to the bench had it been a close game. Daniels recovered nicely, finishing with a career-high 54 yards rushing while helping Iowa limit Weisman to just 10 attempts.
"Leshun is a guy that's just very attentive. He grasps concepts very well," Ferentz said. "We're really happy with both of those guys."
Iowa was also able to work in nearly everyone on defense and special teams, with 22 different Hawkeyes getting credit for tackles.
Many of those players might not see so much action again this season. But injuries tend to start adding up once conference season starts, and the Hawkeyes have to feel better about their youngsters than they did a week ago.
"You never know when those situations are going to occur throughout a season. The Big Ten is a physical conference, and anytime you can get guys that kind of work in the nonconference games, it's just going to help you down the road," safety Tanner Miller said. "You never know when a guy is going to go down."
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