‘It’s not an intentional derailment’: Spencer Petras remains Iowa Hawkeyes’ No. 1 quarterback

·5 min read

The question that Iowa fans have been waiting on this week was answered Tuesday with a response that will leave a number of Hawkeye fans upset.

According to Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz, it’s still Spencer Petras that is the Hawkeyes’ No. 1 quarterback and he will start on Saturday against the Nevada Wolf Pack.

“He’ll start right now. That’s our plan, unless something happens in practice. We obviously have spent a lot of time looking at it, considering it, talking about it, and it’s not the same as last year, but there are some similarities I think in that I think it’s really tough to give an honest evaluation right now.

“I’ve talked to Alex about the same thing, just that no matter who’s in there right now, we’ve got some challenges, and we’ve got to work through those, try to improve in those, and then we’ll have a fairer way to assess I think. I think I speak for everybody in our program, we both have, all have faith in both players,” Ferentz said.

Currently, Petras is rated as the nation’s second-worst quarterback nationally in ESPN’s total quarterback rating among all qualified passers. The San Rafael, Calif., native has completed just 23-of-51 passes for 201 yards with zero touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.

The Iowa media followed up by asking what Petras has done to retain his starting job, or if it’s a matter of Petras simply directing traffic better for an offense that does have some challenges beyond just the play of its quarterback.

“No, I think Alex is capable of that, and I think he proved that last year. I just go back to body of work. This kind of ties into some other topics I’m sure, but we were 0-2 at the start of the ’20 season. Then, we won 12 straight with him at quarterback, so he built up some credit right there, and I thought he played really well. Not in each and every game, but he did a pretty good job and led our football team, so, you know, he’s got a good resume going. And I think the other challenge right now, we’ve had some challenges to work through, and that’s where we’re at presently.

“So, that’s the challenge right now is to piece things together where whoever’s back there can have a better chance to perform in a way that we think and believe both of them are capable of, so that’s our bigger challenge right now I think at this point. I don’t think it’s, in my assessment or our assessment, it’s really fair to just pinpoint one person right now. I think that would be taking an easy route out,” Ferentz said.

Chad Leistikow, a columnist for the Des Moines Register and Iowa City Press-Citizen, listed off Iowa’s point totals in each of Petras’ past six starts—7, 7, 3, 17, 7 and 7—and asked why that body of work was enough to justify him remaining the Hawkeyes’ top signal-caller.

Leistikow also mentioned that Iowa scored 27 and 33 points in Padilla’s first two starts last season against Minnesota and Illinois.

“That’s our assessment. Those are good points, but we’re looking at the whole thing, and that’s our assessment right now,” Ferentz said.

Once again, Ferentz was asked by reporters what the media and fans aren’t seeing right now that keeps Petras in that best position.

“Yeah, I mean, that’s like our whole football team. Probably the biggest difference between you guys and me right now, or us as a staff, is we get to see the guys day in and day out starting in January, and it’s true each and every year, so we’re a little bit more knowledgeable of our injury situation, missed time, all those kinds of things. Going back, there’s a lot of factors at play right now, you know, a lot of factors at play. I think we’ve beat that horse to death a little bit on Saturday, but whether it’s the receiver position, lack of time. And, I felt like we were in a pretty good position going back to Kids Day. I think we were on a good progress path at that point.

“And then, you know, some things happened the next couple weeks that have made it a little bit difficult. Long story short, I think we saw some improvement Saturday. There were some things that were more encouraging and some things that were really close. But close doesn’t get it, and that’s the challenge that we’re running. When we feel with this team that we have a chance to really assess things fairly, then we’ll make the judgments we feel necessary, and hopefully that’s coming soon,” Ferentz said.

As one final piece of this puzzle, Ferentz was asked if it’s safe to assume that Petras is practicing the best of his quarterbacks.

“Yeah, we think he is, but again, that’s not a knock on Alex. Alex is doing a good job, too. We’re not trying to drive this train off the road by any stretch. I mean, it’s not an intentional derailment,” Ferentz said.

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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire