116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — With the 2022 season fewer than six months away, there is no shortage of quarterback questions on Evashevski Drive.
“Don’t have any answers,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said as a reporter prepared to ask a quarterback question.
Ferentz made it clear Wednesday afternoon — the same day as Iowa’s first spring practice — he wants an open competition at quarterback, involving Spencer Petras, Alex Padilla and Joey Labas.
“Everybody's competing right now,” Ferentz said.
Not every quarterback is beginning the spring season at equal places in that competition, though.
“Obviously two guys have a real distinct advantage, knowing what to do,” Ferentz said, referencing Petras and Padilla. “They've played. They've been out there when games end.”
Petras has started 11 of Iowa’s 14 games in 2021 and all eight games in 2020. Padilla started the other three games in 2021.
No other quarterback has thrown more than one pass in a game since 2019. Labas spent most of last season on the scout team.
“Just getting up to the line and getting the ball snapped and having us in the right place — that’s a heck of a start,” Ferentz said. “It sounds pretty routine and easy, but for Joe right now, there's a process to that.”
Petras was the starter on Iowa’s depth chart released this week. Padilla was the second-teamer, a spot he occupied for most of the 2021 season.
Ferentz said the depth chart “doesn't really mean anything until September” and refuted the notion that the starting quarterback spot is Petras’ to lose.
“On one hand, he's got an edge or things he does better than Alex,” Ferentz said. “But I can flip it around saying there's things that Alex can do a bit better too. … The good news is both guys are totally capable.”
Labas was one of the few third-team players to earn a spot on Iowa’s two-deep depth chart. Ferentz said it’ll be “interesting for us to watch how much he can pick up and how fast in 15 days.”
Whether it’s Petras, Padilla or Labas under center in September, Ferentz recognizes the need for improvement. Iowa’s quarterbacks completed just 55 percent of passes in 2021 and 57 percent in 2020.
“To think that we're going to live in the world of success if we're completing 52 percent of our passes is probably not realistic,” Ferentz said. “It's cutting it close. We definitely would like to be up over the 60s.”
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