116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Iowa junior quarterback Spencer Petras wants to be better.
In the eight weeks before spring football, Petras watched every game from last year, concluding that he wants and believes he can get his completion percentage up to at least 65 percent. Petras’ completion percentage was 57.1 last year, No. 9 in the Big Ten. His pass efficiency was No. 10.
That’s all while having the third-most passing attempts in the Big Ten, with Northwestern’s Peyton Ramsey at No. 1 and Penn State’s Sean Clifford at No. 2.
In the opening spring news conference this week, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz praised Petras for his comeback performance against Illinois last fall. He also said teams with veteran quarterbacks had the advantage in a pandemic year.
“I made that comment when this whole thing got going, you know, it was a good year to be in endowed genetically,” Ferentz said on March 29. “It's a good year to have a veteran quarterback back and we didn’t have either of those going for us. It was a matter of going out there and playing.”
On Tuesday, Iowa quarterbacks coach Ken O’Keefe emphasized how hard it is for a quarterback to train without a spring football season.
“We had a lot of great meetings on Zoom,” O’Keefe said. “But on-the-field stuff, they had to do on their own. One of the problems that you have when they train themselves is you can't be there to correct mistakes. So, if you don't watch out they'll end up training themselves incorrectly.”
O’Keefe brought in former Iowa quarterbacks like 2002 Heisman runner-up Brad Banks and Ricky Stanzi for Zoom meetings with the quarterbacks, but said those self-trained mistakes on the field still showed up in all quarterbacks during preseason this fall.
Petras, in particular, will need to work on his body positioning and slowing down his progression, so he can see his targets more clearly.
But O’Keefe did say Petras doesn’t necessarily have the starting position secured.
“Is there a true competition? I would say yes there is,” O’Keefe said. “Everybody's splitting reps, everybody's there right now, to show us what they're capable of doing. Every throw, every incompletion, interception or explosive play gets recorded.”
What gives Petras the edge is the eight games he has under his belt.
“As for Alex (Padilla) and Deuce (Hogan) both, the big test for these guys is going to be when they start getting blitzed,” O’Keefe said. “When (defensive coordinator) Phil (Parker) starts coming after us a little bit more during these practices and especially on Saturdays when we scrimmage, that's where these guys will learn a lot about what they know.”
The first test for a quarterback, O’Keefe said, is a double A-gap blitz, when two linebackers burst through the line on either side of the center. It’s there where he’ll be able to see who can make the best decisions quickly.
O’Keefe commended sophomore Padilla’s quick feet and ability to see the field and communicate, which he said is more advanced than redshirt freshman Hogan’s. But he’s impressed with Hogan’s accuracy, and that his size is an advantage over Padilla. Hogan is 6-foot-4, 213 pounds, while Padilla is 6-1, 198 pounds. Petras towers over both at 6-5, 238 pounds.
Fans and critics have not been shy to voice their opinions on Petras, and when asked about them at the news conference, Petras chuckled, cracked a smile and said:
“Yeah, it’s all right, I've had my fair share of experience watching Nate (Stanley) deal with it ,” Petras said. “No offense to the fans, but I could (not) care less about what they have to say about our performance. I’m focused on improving and having a great spring.
Comments: (319)-398-8387, email@example.com