116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
LINCOLN, NEB. — When word spread to center Tyler Linderbaum that Spencer Petras was going to start the second half at quarterback, Linderbaum had a few words for his friend.
“You’re a winner,” Linderbaum told Petras. “Go out there and win.”
Linderbaum was right. Petras won.
Petras led an Iowa offense that was stale for much of the first half to a 15-point comeback.
Before Iowa kicker Caleb Shudak’s third field goal late in the third quarter to make it a 21-9 game, ESPN gave the Hawkeyes a 5.4 percent chance of winning.
But the return of Iowa’s starter for the first nine games gave the Hawkeyes a spark.
After Padilla completed 6 of 14 passes for 76 yards — and only 25 yards on his last nine throws — Petras came in and completed 7 of 13 passes for 102 yards.
“He made some really tough throws, tough plays, kept some plays alive” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He did a really good job, and I think that traces back to his preparation.”
Petras had a rushing touchdown on a 2-yard quarterback sneak. Linderbaum was so excited that he was banging on Petras’ helmet, practically giving him a concussion.
“Lindy’s slapping me on the head,” Petras said. “I should be slapping him on the head.”
Petras doesn’t want credit for the touchdown.
“The QB sneak has nothing to do with the QB,” Petras said.
It was Petras’ first in-game action since leaving the Northwestern game on Nov. 6 because of a shoulder injury. He still has “a little pain” while warming up, but has “no issues” once he’s warm.
Getting to play Friday gave him “a new appreciation just for being out there and having a chance to compete.”
“It’s not the same when you’re not playing,” Petras said.
The Californian won snaps on Friday. He helped the Hawkeyes win the game. He won against the shoulder injury in the last few weeks, too.
Petras won another battle long before his first snap in the second half — a battle against the flu.
A flu bug that ravaged its way through the Hansen Football Performance Center made its way to the quarterback room.
“Alex and I both had the flu this week,” Petras said.
They both missed practice on Tuesday, leaving Deuce Hogan and Joey Labas as the only quarterbacks able to participate. That made for an “interesting” practice, Ferentz said.
“We had one guy on one field and one guy on the other and that was it,” Ferentz said. “I’m not even going to tell you what I was thinking that day.”
Had the flu bug hit a couple days later, Ferentz would’ve had to choose between two quarterbacks who have never played significant snaps in a college football game.
“If it was Deuce, with all due respect to Deuce, I might’ve stayed in Iowa City,” Ferentz said jokingly.
Petras thought Padilla might not have been fully recovered from the flu bug.
Ferentz said he did not hear any issues about Padilla’s health when he made the quarterback change.
“I didn’t ask anybody how they were feeling out there,” Ferentz said.
The reemergence of Petras again prompts the question of who is the future leader of Iowa’s offense.
Ferentz carried the same company line about having confidence in both Petras and Padilla as he said in past weeks.
“Both guys have done a lot of good things,” Ferentz said.
Padilla “has been doing a really good job,” and Ferentz is “really proud of him.”
Petras, meanwhile, has impressed Ferentz with how he has practiced despite being relegated to second-team reps.
“Nobody likes to be on second team,” Ferentz said. “At least good second-teamers don’t want to be second team. They want to be first team, and I’m sure Spencer felt that way, but you’d never know it the way he practiced.”
As Ferentz evaluates Padilla and Petras, he also considers the rest of the rest of the offense around the two quarterbacks. Iowa’s offensive line and rushing attack have shown more success in the last few weeks than earlier in the season.
“We’re going in the right direction, so that affects whoever’s in there playing quarterback,” Ferentz said. “I think you’ve got to figure that into Spencer’s performance during the course of the year.”
Should Minnesota beat Wisconsin and give Iowa a Big Ten championship berth, Ferentz isn’t ready to name a starter.
“I’ll tell you on Tuesday,” Ferentz said.
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