One of the prevailing topics of this spring, summer and offseason was the quarterback battle being waged between Spencer Petras, Alex Padilla and Joe Labas.
Even in the spring, it became apparent that this was probably a two-horse race between Petras and Padilla.
“Joe is obviously as I said back five weeks ago, he’s behind the other two as far as knowing what to do,” Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz said of Labas after the open practice to end the spring season.
It played out that way, too. When the final offensive depth chart was released ahead of Iowa’s showdown with South Dakota State, Petras was listed as the Hawkeyes’ No. 1 quarterback and Padilla as Iowa’s No. 2 quarterback.
Ferentz elaborated on why Petras is Iowa’s No. 1 quarterback in his weekly press conference to preview the showdown with South Dakota State.
“It’s a long evaluation, and we evaluate everything, we tell our guys starting in January. Obviously we’re not doing football stuff, and both Spencer and Alex are both quality guys, but just the time on the field, I think Spencer has outperformed Alex a little bit at this point. He’s further ahead and gives us a better chance to be successful. That’s not to diminish what Alex has done. Both have improved.
“Now the thing is can we put this whole thing together and be a little bit more productive offensively. Both guys have done a good job. Spencer has continued to climb,” Ferentz said.
To a certain faction of the fan base, that might sound like nails meeting chalk board. The reality is this, though. As Ferentz said, Iowa feels Petras gives the Hawkeyes the best chance to consistently win football games.
There was talk this offseason about the type of progress Petras was making. It remains to be seen how much Petras’ work with quarterback trainer Tony Racioppi and a trip to the Manning Passing Academy results in improved play.
After a season in which Petras finished with 1,880 passing yards on just 57.3% completion and 10 touchdown passes against nine interceptions, fans are eager to see Petras simplify things and deliver bigger results. Petras talked this past spring about improving that completion percentage in particular.
As his head coach noted, Petras at quarterback is one of the pieces for Iowa that’s “set in stone right now.” Now, it’s time for Petras to show that his game and Iowa’s offense has come along from the unit that finished No. 121 nationally in total offense a season ago.
Follow Josh on Twitter: @JoshOnREF
Let us know your thoughts, comment on this story below. Join the conversation today.