Months ago, we started our march toward a 2020 Iowa football season by previewing each position group for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Those previews, which can all be viewed here, were stopped when hope of a 2020 season faded. Now, we have revised schedule and hope of playing this year again. As such, we’re wrapping up our coverage by circling back on any remaining position groups which have not already been previewed.
This week we wrap up our previews with the final position group: quarterback.
Before we get into the 2020 Iowa Football quarterback room, I’ve gotta give some love to Nate Stanley. When it’s all said and done, Nate deserves a tip of the cap. He will go down as one of the winningest Hawkeye QB’s of all-time. Nate and Ricky Stanzi are the only two Hawkeye signal callers who went 3-0 in bowl games.
Nate played in 39 games for the Hawks, starting 39 consecutive games. Nate is the only starting QB that Brian Ferentz has ever coached as OC. Stanley threw for 8297 yards, 68 TD’s, and just 23 INT’s. Nate also was named the “Best QB Sneaker in the History of QB Sneaking.” Nate’s durability was an incredible thing. I remember back to 1994 and Hayden Fry’s squad. All five scholarship QB’s were hurt. Ryan Driscoll, Matt Sherman, Mike Duprey, Corby Smith, and Jefferson Bates. Hayden almost had to go with Willie Guy (WR) or Plez Atkins (DB) to line up behind center. Anyway, thanks for being a tough fella and true Hawkeye, Nate.
In a matter of days we are going to see something we haven’t seen in years; a new Iowa quarterback. Spencer Petras (I actually had to go to the Iowa Football Media Guide to look up the pronunciation: PEE-tris - I was saying PEH-tris) has been taking the first-team snaps and has been receiving glowing reviews. It would appear that Covid has hurt the development of first-year quarterbacks, but Spencer has been putting in the time and he’s got some talent.
As a prep at the same high school (Marin Catholic - CA) as Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams, Petras set a number of school records previously held by the former first overall pick in the NFL Draft, including: passing yards/game (502), passing yards/season (4157), passing TD’s/game (5), passing TD’s/season (50), and single game completion percentage (100%).
Petras enrolled early and participated in the 2018 spring practice. He played in two games in 2018 and 3 games in 2019, so despite being a new starter, he certainly isn’t new to the Iowa program.
When I went back and watched tape of his high school career I was in awe. I get the whole highlights part of it (no picks, fumbles, etc...), but what I did see was incredible. He was throwing laser beams, dropping deep balls in the bucket, hitting slants and outs. You name it. He made all of the throws and they looked like he was just handing the balls to the receivers as far as placement is concerned. He had a great presence in the pocket, he kept his eyes downfield, he would go to second and third options, he’d avoid the rush, get hit, and still hit receivers downfield.
Petras is a big kid (6’5”, 231) who lettered three years in track (sprints, hurdles, shot put); when he ran he often looked to run over people. Iowa will miss Stanley’s experience, toughness, and intangibles, but after watching this, I think we upgraded our QB1. Not playing at a true hostile road environment will be a tremendous benefit for Spencer as well in his first year under center.
Next Man In
In the age of Covid, the need for depth will be at an all-time high. Whether it is soft-tissue injuries, quarantine, getting in some snaps for backups as it’s a “free” year as far as eligibility is concerned, there’s an excellent chance that we will see more snaps this year from Iowa’s non-starting quarterbacks. Alex Padilla is the second string QB on the first depth chart of the season.
Padilla earned a little extra buzz when late in the recruiting process Georgia offered him. Georgia is all that and a bag of chips, so that’s saying something. I watched Padilla’s high school tape and I came away impressed. He completed 70% of his throws his senior year. He can play from the shotgun, but there were many plays where he was under center as well. He also has some elusiveness to him as well as pocket presence. He throws well on the run and they ran quite a bit of bootlegs to get him outside the pocket.
At 6’1”, 198, Padilla’s not as big at the other Iowa QB’s, but he has a bit more wiggle to him and shows does a nice job of stepping up in the pocket with a quick release. I am guessing that Brian Ferentz has a dozen plays that would cater to Alex’s strengths if called upon. QB coach Ken O’Keefe made a living off of the run setting up the play action pass from a bootleg as Iowa’s former offensive coordinator.
One player who may have been hit hardest by the lack of a true summer camp could be Deuce Hogan. Hogan is the swaggy incoming freshman QB from Texas. If that reminds you of Drew Tate, it should. Tate came in and quickly became the backup quarterback behind Nathan Chandler. Unbelievably Drew Tate threw for over 12,000 yards in Texas high school. Hogan threw for over 8000 yards in his high school career with 100 TD’s and 33 INT’s. Hogan may be the future at the position, but with Petras just a sophomore and Padilla a redshirt freshman, it will be an uphill climb for Hogan to see the field this year.
Sophomore walk-on Connor Kapisak (6’5”, 209) rounds out the quarterback room for your Hawkeyes.
Editor’s note: If Kapisak sees the field we will all have either consumed all the bleach in our homes or consumed all the celebratory desserts and beverages and retired for a nap.
The “It” Factor
There is probably no greater position in sports that involves the “It” factor than playing quarterback. Many players go about their job and make some good throws and some bad throws. Sometimes these players are even referred to as game-managers. Some players have “It”. Think Nick Foles when the stars are aligned. Drew Tate had “It”. Ricky Stanzi had “It.” CJ Beathard had “It”. Jake Christensen? Nope. We beat Pitt that year if Stanzi was left in the game. Until people start flying around trying to legally kill you, it’s tough to see what you’ve got in a QB. On paper and film it looks like the Hawkeyes have as talented a group of young QB’s as they’ve had in quite some time. Let’s hope we have the “It” factor in one or more of these ballplayers.