I have written before that the offensive and defensive lines win football games. That is true. The most important position on the gridiron, especially in today’s game, is the quarterback. Captain Obvious statement there. Iowa was a bit slow out of the gate, especially when it came to breaking in a new quarterback. The Hawks dropped close games to Purdue and Northwestern. Spencer Petras gained some experience and confidence, and the black and gold went on to win six straight games. I am a firm believer that we would have throttled Michigan’s khaki pants and Missouri in the bowl game. That was a pretty successful season. In my opinion if we had this year’s version of Spencer Petras last year, we would have played Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship.
This offseason the Hawkeye faithful wanted to hear, and we were told, that the quarterback position was up for grabs. This may be lip service, but I also tend to think it is true. Spencer has been putting in work. As stated before Petras struggled at times last year. Becoming a new starter with an offseason of Covid is not an ideal way to achieve early success. Petras (6’5” 233 pounds) was 3rd in the Big Ten in passing yards (1,569) and 4th in passing touchdowns (9). Big Spence was named honorable mention by the media in 2020. Petras has the frame, arm, and desire to be a great one. He has been working with quarterback guru Tony Racioppi.
Iowa QB Spencer Petras working Midpoint Drill. Balanced base, small step slightly left of target closing shoulder at same time. Pause to see/feel separation and balance. Hips snap around vertical spine turning foot and getting elbow to 90 extending to target. Turn in sequence. pic.twitter.com/OYKMxp41cK— Tony Racioppi (@Tonyrazz03) July 11, 2021
Here are last year’s Spencer Petras highlights.
I would expect Petras will continue to progress as a quarterback. Hostile crowds in a big venue setting will be new to him, but athletes of this caliber live for this. I gave Petras a C+ grade last year. If that bumps up to a B/B+ or beyond the Hawks can win the West.
Iowa’s clear number two, Alex Padilla (6’1” 197 pounds), is an intriguing player. It was said this offseason that Padilla closed the gap between himself and starter Spencer Petras. That should help Hawkeye fans sleep a little better as every fan base has seen the wheels fall off if the starting quarterback goes down. Padilla had a late offer from Georgia during the recruiting process. Georgia football is one of a handful of teams in the country that can practically pick and choose their roster. A Georgia offers carries a great deal of weight. Padilla played sparingly last year, but he did play. He appeared in two games in 2020, completing one of two passes for 12 yards and rushing two times for 7 yards. Padilla could be a nice little change of pace quarterback for the Hawks as he has some wiggle and elusiveness to him. I know, I know. The Hawkeyes don’t put in a change-of-pace quarterback, but if needed, Brian Ferentz could dial up some nice roll out packages/play calls. Here you will see Padilla’s highlights from his senior year in high school.
Here is a nice ball Padilla threw during the spring practice.
Padilla is just a sophomore this year but he has been in the program a few years. His comfort level will be important if Petras gets banged up. Being a year behind Petras would also afford Padilla the opportunity to start one year for the Hawks if he doesn’t unseat Petras.
The most popular player on a roster is oftentimes the backup quarterback. Iowa had an interesting situation last year when Spencer Petras struggled as many Hawk fans were clamoring for the backup’s backup. It’s not often that this happens, but redshirt freshman Deuce Hogan (6’4” 212 pounds) was that guy. Hogan is a coach’s son out of Texas. He started about 23 years in high school and threw for about 30 miles worth of touchdowns. Also, the name Deuce is just plain sweet.
Hogan’s charisma is probably a big reason why he is such a fan favorite. As social media and recruiting have exploded in recent years, Hogan was that front man out there trying to recruit other players to Iowa.
It is a cliche that competition makes everyone better. It’s a cliche because it happens to be true. With Alex Padilla and Deuce Hogan pushing for playing time, Spencer Petras is going to get better. Newcomer Joey Labas will also benefit from this competition. The Iowa quarterback room has some talent. Coach Ken O’Keefe is the experienced professor. Iowa’s quarterbacks are getting in offseason work with nationally-known quarterback coaches. If the Hawkeyes’ quarterbacks can take the next step, the Hawks can play Ohio State for the conference championship. As always, Go Hawks!