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KIRK SPEAKS: Minnesota Gophers

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Which Iowa team will we get against the visiting Gophers?

NCAA Football: Iowa at Northwestern Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Folks, let’s get right down to it. We had a change at quarterback last Saturday who brought new life to the Iowa offense, despite it then proceeding to still score a total of three points in the second half. Alex Padilla is your starter for this week (at least). We’ll get into that.

Does that change a ton of things for this Iowa Hawkeyes team? Yes and no. It opens up the playbook for sure. But it doesn’t change the philosophy of the play caller, or the fact that the offensive line continues to struggle. But it does make things significantly more interesting.

But don’t take my word for it. Let’s hear from Kirk Ferentz from his presser this week, which, from my read, is significantly less snarky than last week’s. Check out my highlights belhe full transcript here.

Let’s start out with the big “sound bite”:

KIRK FERENTZ: If we were playing tomorrow, Petras, Richmond, and Roberts would not be playing. Riley has a good chance to play and we’ll see how the week plays out. But those are probably the four most notable injuries at this point.

The Riley Moss news: very, VERY good to hear. That will be a boost for the defense for sure. The Petras news: very interesting. There’s no doubt he looked legitimately awful on Saturday against Northwestern, leading to Padilla coming in, playing well, and creating a big problem if your name is Kirk or Brian Ferentz about who lines up under center going forward.

For more on that...

Q. How is Spencer feeling and has he been able to practice at all?

COACH FERENTZ: Our strategy really has been to rest him. We’ll see what he can do tomorrow and see how he looks. He’s feeling pretty well. It’s a matter of throwing the ball effectively and that ultimately was the decision Saturday.

It was real clear on that last throw just couldn’t get the zip on it that he needs to. Medically, he’s clear to play. If that makes sense. That’s how every decision gets made. There’s a medical component. And then the rest of it is can a player play effectively. For a quarterback if you can’t throw it effectively it’s tough.

We’ll see tomorrow. All of us are the mindset that Alex will play and we’ll see where it all takes us from there. But Spencer’s done a great job. Great leader. Team-first guy and has a really good resumé.

Ok, so Petras could play, but isn’t. Do we read into that at all? I mean it was abundantly clear that something was wrong with Petras Saturday so this might be legit. But could it also be used as a way to conveniently keep Petras on the bench? Probably not, but who knows.

Q. Medically, Petras can play but would he be the No. 2 quarterbacks on Saturday, or is Hogan the 2 until you find out more about the Spencer?

COACH FERENTZ: He has to be. Because right now Spencer is not practicing. Deuce has to be ready. And that’s his task. And it’s pretty simple. The medical part of it or at least what guys can do and can’t do dictates what we’re going to do.

We have to prepare mentally. Alex is going to be the starter and then Deuce will back him up and we’ll see what we can do with Spencer.

I’m not really reading a ton into this. I would be shocked if we see Hogan in this game on Saturday if Padilla gets injured. But who knows.

Q. In terms of the offensive line, when you went back looked at the tape, what good signs did you see from them, progression in that game, maybe the pass game before that?

COACH FERENTZ: ...we’ve got plenty of room for growth. And I think it’s pretty obvious ... that’s where these days in between the games are so important to have a chance to work and I’m guessing we’re like most teams. Everybody has challenges and hardships. Everybody has players that are out because of injury or playing less than 100 percent.

So I imagine most people are like us ...And the challenge there it’s easier for a more mature player to understand how to practice without contact versus the younger guy. But that’s the situation we’re in right now. I think the guys are growing.

We’re seeing that. And then all the other things you’re trying to do is match up against your opponent what their scheme may be. You have all those things going on at once.

The better we can run the race the better off we’ll be this Saturday and hopefully the one after that and the one after that.

Overall, I think the offensive line still remains the weakest link of this team. But when Padilla came in last weekend, they seemed somewhat rejuvenated, and we saw some really nice protection. Maybe that’s because it’s easier for Padilla to move around and create a bit more space, but I’ll be interested to see how they play against a solid Minnesota defense.

Q. Is that something you expected from Alex? Did he exceed your expectations with his poise how ready he was?

COACH FERENTZ: You just hope that guys are going to step up do a good job. Had no reason to think he wouldn’t. But still players have to do it. They are the ones out there playing the games.

But I thought he just kept a real clear head and kept a real good demeanor about him and really executed things pretty well for us.

And there’s no way to learn, better way to learn than being thrown into a game. That’s how you learn. It’s like driving a car in some ways. At some point you have to get on the highway or drive in the city.

It’s all positive. But there’s going to be ups and downs like every player but just really happy. He’s practicing well right now.

I honestly had no clue what to expect from Padilla given we saw him look a little rough around the edges before this. But ever since he came in during the Wisconsin game, I’ve seen a bit of a difference in this offense with him running the show. And the fact that he gets the young receivers involved as well is a HUGE plus.

Q. After Spencer’s 100 percent, do you still see Alex competing for the starting spot?

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, Alex is helping himself or helped himself Saturday. So the good news as we stand here today, which is really premature. We have two guys that have played pretty well. We know more now than we did a week ago. That’s for sure. And I’d love to have both guys healthy, ready to go. See where it all goes here.

Obviously we have to see Padilla again this week, but I don’t know how, barring him being just flat out awful, you bring back Petras at this point. But also, if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterback. So this kind of needs to be settled.

Q. The receivers, your two freshmen have always kind of played at a higher level than their age. But the other day they seemed to take another step forward. Keagan especially with a lot of targets but then Arland Bruce, you could hit him with a sledgehammer —

COACH FERENTZ: That was impressive.

Arland Bruce is TOUGH.

Q. Just seems like they’re ascending. Do you see that, too, that they’re becoming go-to-type players?

COACH FERENTZ: They’ve earned everybody’s confidence, just through their play. They practice the same way. Obviously we don’t tackle in practice like that. But they play, they’re focused. They’re beyond their years focused and take practice really seriously.

And I mean the guys are silly but it’s just it’s rare when — doesn’t sound that hard, but to get guys that are really wired in, they’re pretty uncommon. It’s amazing ...

A lot of things about that. If you can identify that, something’s got to be going on, because it’s not like he’s 6’3” or 220. Doesn’t look like an Ohio State player. But he plays good. And that’s what you’re looking for. It’s a real compliment to him.