Spencer Petras’ quarterback trainer sees improvement from Iowa Hawkeyes’ signal-caller
The biggest “X-Factor” for the Iowa Hawkeyes every year is the quarterback.
While the faces and names may change year after year, most of how Iowa is built stays constant. Consistently, Iowa touts strong offensive and defensive lines to pair with a potent rushing attack and grind-it-out mentality. Kirk Ferentz’s teams typically have a high floor as a result, but the ceiling really depends on how far the man with the ball in his hands takes them.
It is no different for Iowa this year. Last year the defense was as stout as can be, but an offense that averaged only 23.4 points per game is only going to take you so far. Quarterback play limited the Hawkeyes’ offense, and if they want to make it back to the Big Ten championship game, Petras needs to take another step forward.
Luckily for Iowa fans, Petras appears to be making some improvements over the summer if a recent interview 247Sports’ HawkeyesInsider did with his quarterback trainer Tony Racioppi is to be believed.
“He’s the best he’s looked. He’s worked hard on his body, worked hard on his body fat, and he’s moving as quickly as he’s ever moved. Again, not that he’s ever going to be a dual-threat quarterback, but he’s going to have to get away from trouble, move quickly, get his feet set, and make a throw. He’s worked on that. I think he’s lost a good seven or eight pounds,” Racioppi told 247Sports.
“Mechanically, he’s worked on all of the stuff we did last year. He’s made some strides. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much we talk about this stuff, he has to play better on Saturdays. He knows that. At the end of the day, he’s going to be judged on how many games they won, his completion percentage, and his touchdown passes. That is the reality of playing quarterback.”
Most Hawkeye fans will recognize the New Jersey trainer for work he’s done with former Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley, as well as Pittsburgh Steelers first-round pick Kenny Pickett.
Racioppi recognized some of the flaws Petras made last year, and spoke on how he can help maximize the senior’s game in 2022.
“Fundamentally, he missed some throws last year that he shouldn’t have missed,” Racioppi told 247Sports on Monday of Petras. “Sometimes that was a mechanical thing. He needed to be more athletic. He’s not a bad athlete. He was just heavy. The way college football is played nowadays, if one and two are covered, you’re going to have to buy some time and find three or four, or if things break down, get out of there and extend plays. He’s never going to a ball 70-yards to the house, but if he can extend plays and pop somebody open down the field, they’re going to be that much more dynamic on offense.”
Much of his work over the summer has been tinkering with the little things. There can be flashes of potential in Petras’ game, but some minor problems snowball into major ones. Racioppi sees progress and potential in Petras after a strong spring.
“I think he had a great spring,” Racioppi said. “I think people look into the last scrimmage they had, but outside of that, he had a fantastic spring, and it’s closed practices. He was elite in spring, so I think those guys saw strides and saw him take the bull by the horns. Go win the job and go improve on what they did last year.”
As Racioppi noted, all of this with Petras hinges on him winning the job over Alex Padilla and Joe Labas first. If that winds up being the case and Petras has indeed refined his game and made significant improvements, then Iowa should be right back in the thick of the Big Ten West race. Perhaps the Hawkeyes could even close ground on the two perceived heavyweights in the conference, Ohio State and Michigan.
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