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Hawkeyes Football: Passing Game by Pictures

A complete breakdown of Iowa’s passing game by pictures

Syndication: HawkCentral
Few photos better encapsulate Iowa’s passing game this season than this shot of Labas, Petras, and Padilla.
Bryon Houlgrave/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

Each week, I compile a visual pass chart for Iowa Hawkeye football on Twitter (@tnels20). With the passing game being such a major talking point following the season, I thought I should use this chance to show the details of the passing game as a collective.

My goal is not to push or sway opinion on what Iowa should do in 2022, but a look back at the data.

*All data and charts have been compiled and created by myself. All attempts for accurate data have been made.

Season Charts and Targets



Both Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla targeted players in similar areas of the field with similar success. The only major difference is short (0-10 yards) over the middle of the field was significantly lower success rate for Padilla. This is one area where his size may be a detriment, but it is an area that can likely be improved with experience. Padilla’s success rate on the perimeter for intermediate throws show he has sufficient arm strength to complete the passes required by Iowa’s system.

The biggest difference in targets was Petras targeting tight ends 28% of targeted attempts compared to 20% for Padilla. Both targeted running backs ~15% of the time.

Padilla threw the ball away nearly twice as often as Petras (12.3% to 6.8%).

Season Total Targets For All Quarterbacks

Here is a look at historical passing depth for comparison. As you can see there are small fluctuations, but in general 40-50% of passes occur within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Iowa is slightly below the national average in that category. The Hawkeyes have remained relatively consistent as well with around 10-15% of pass attempts being targeted 20+ yards downfield. This number is also slightly below the national average.

Wide Receivers

Snap counts for true freshmen Arland Bruce IV and Keagan Johnson went up drastically as the season progressed and so did their targets. In 2022 Iowa will return their top 4 receivers.

Snaps counts by game:

Bruce: 5 / 2 / 20 / 13 / 18 / 18 / 16 / 8 / 19 / 19 / 30 / 29 / 28 / 47

Johnson: 8 / 6 / 17 / 10 / 27 / 32 / 16 / 44 / 57 / 42 / 62 / 46 / 44 / 0 (injury)

Jones: 37 / 36 / 43 / 29 / 38 / 40 / 39 / 20 / 37 / 16 / 28 / 35 / 39 / 32

Ragaini: 43 / 34 / 34 / 23 / 20 / 34 / 38 / 35 / 27 / 20 / 29 / 28 / 32 / 52

Tight Ends

At tight end, Iowa will also be returning their top targets. LaPorta led Iowa in targets (84) for the second consecutive season. As a redshirt freshman Lachey provided a few big plays in the passing game while also being a serviceable blocker on the perimeter.

1st Down

Petras produced similar numbers throughout the down progression, where as Padilla was much more effective on 1st down compared to 2nd and 3rd downs. Both were forced into a lot of 3rd and 7+ situations with minimal effectiveness. Petras was slightly more effective in picking up first downs, but threw short of the sticks at a higher rate than Padilla.

2nd Down

3rd Down

There was a lot of talk about Iowa throwing short of the sticks on 3rd downs this season. Here is a breakdown of Iowa’s 3rd down data.

Note: Passes includes attempts that lead to a defensive penalty but those are not included with completions or completion percentage