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Iowa Football Stock Watch: Buy Spencer Petras, Sell Brian Ferentz

Buy low, sell high. Unless you don’t.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Iowa
Which Iowa stock are you buying heading into week 3?
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

We’re now a full two weeks into the 2020 Iowa football season and things are not going quite as we all had hoped. The Hawkeyes have started the year 0-2 on a pair of close losses to Purdue and Northwestern, each more frustrating than the other in certain ways.

We’ve broken down position grades each of the last two weeks and those have told the story to some extent. But now that we’re halfway through week three and staring down the barrel of an 0-3 start with some of the more difficult games remaining on the schedule, it’s time to get our first stock report of the year.

For those of you unfamiliar with the perils of investing in that devil known as the stock market, the general idea is buy low, sell high. In practice, it doesn’t typically work that way and it takes a lot gumption to buy a beaten down name and sell one that’s on a heater.

What does any of that have to do with Iowa football? Well, nothing probably, but we’re going to run with it any way.

Buy, Buy, Buy!

Spencer Petras

Petras is the topic of much discussion around Hawkeye circles. He’s missed open receivers. He’s thrown fastballs through the hands of receivers. He’s made bad reads. He’s failed to check into the correct calls. And Iowa fans are ready to dump him for a true freshman who has essentially been in less than a month of college football practices.

This is the perfect buy low opportunity. Petras is a former 4-star prospect who has all the tools. We’ve seen flashes of them in each of the first two games. And he’s made a grand total of two career starts. While most Hawkeye QBs would have gotten those first two starts in against cupcakes from the FCS or MAC, Petras made them against Big Ten defenses.

He’s going to get better and if he doesn’t, you’re not in that much. This is your chance to buy the flashy tech stock before it blows up - you can always dump it if it doesn’t work out and you’re only going to be out a few bucks. Buy it and thank me later.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette

Like Petras, Ihmir Smith-Marsette’s stock is about as low as it can go. The Holiday Bowl MVP is Iowa’s most dynamic playmaker, but he was absent in week 1 against Purdue with zero receptions and just 2 rushes for 18 yards. In week two he was Iowa’s leading receiver, but totaled just 84 yards on 7 receptions and was not involved in the run game at all. He’s yet to find the endzone this season and he’s set to miss week 3 against Michigan State after one of the worst sequences of decision-making we’ve seen from an Iowa player.

If you’re buying Petras as a long-term investment, ISM is like buying a call option on him. If Petras is going to do well, ISM is going to do well. And what we learned last year with his 722 yards and 5 TDs on 44 catches is that Smith-Marsette is an absolute playmaker when he’s given the ball. That much is evident by his skills in the return game, which have earned him Big Ten and national recognition.

When ISM is back from his suspension, and every indication is that will be soon, look for him to be hungry to make an impact. He has the skills and if given the opportunity he will be an integral piece to this offense finding its footing going forward.

Sell, Sell, Sell!

Iowa’s Run Defense

The Iowa run defense looked substantially better in week two than in week one. The Hawkeyes gave up 143 yards on the ground, but that came on 60 (!!) Northwestern rushing attempts for an average of 2.4 yards per rush. That’s a winning number and much better than the 325 rushing yards Maryland gave up to the Wildcats. But it’s also a far cry from the 195 rushing yards and 5.4 yards per carry the Iowa defense gave up to a glorified fullback and Purdue with their starter sidelined.

So which of these is the real Iowa defense? We don’t know, but there certainly feels like there’s more downside than upside at this point with matchups against Minnesota, Penn State and Wisconsin still on the schedule. We may know more on this front after this weekend, but at minimum I’m pulling back my retirement plan exposure to Iowa’s run defense.

Brian Ferentz

I’ve been a long time shareholder in BF stock. I got in early when it was dirt cheap and frankly it hasn’t moved much higher since. But like some of these younger tech stocks, I keep holding on, ignoring the fact there are no profits and pointing to the growth potential, the one-off items and the like.

I think it’s time to bail. The racial issues we saw over the summer are the equivalent to a management scandal and rather than cutting ties and moving forward, BF is still in place. That would be understandable if the results showed he was worth the risk. As of yet, the risks far outweight the rewards, Ohio State in 2017 notwithstanding.

This season we’ve seen a grand total of 40 points from the offense. In week one you had some excuses with the absurd number of penalties and the two fumbles inside the Purdue 10-yard line. Against Northwester, it’s pretty inexcusable to come away with only 20 points after being gifted a pair of first half turnovers. No points in the second half is not acceptable. Throwing the ball 51 times with a QB in just his second start, regardless of how good he may eventually be, is inexcusable.

There are major warning signs here and while I don’t know that this is a bankruptcy filing in waiting, I’m not sticking around to find out. Sell now, avoid the heart ache and put your money into something safer.