116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — For the first time since 2014, all signs point toward the Hawkeyes turning to their No. 2 quarterback for a start midway through the season.
After Spencer Petras left the Northwestern game last week with a lingering shoulder injury, Iowa will prepare to give Alex Padilla a start this week against Minnesota, marking a rare change at one of the most stable positions during the Kirk Ferentz era.
Ferentz confirmed on Tuesday what Monday’s depth chart already hinted toward for the quarterback position.
“We’ve got to prepare mentally like Alex is going to be the starter,” Ferentz said. “Deuce (Hogan) will back him up, and then we’ll see what we can do with Spencer.”
Petras is medically cleared to play, Ferentz said, but his status is “a matter of throwing the ball effectively.”
“There's a medical component, and then the rest of it is, ‘Can a player play effectively?’ For a quarterback, if you can't throw it effectively, it's tough,” Ferentz said.
Barring a sudden change in Petras’ status, Padilla will become just the third player to start at quarterback for Iowa in a 57-game stretch.
Iowa has changed starting quarterbacks — either because of injury or performance — in only four of the previous 15 seasons.
Iowa began the 2014 season with Jake Rudock as the starting quarterback, but Ferentz turned to C.J. Beathard to start the 2014 Purdue game after Rudock suffered a lower-body injury in the previous game against Pittsburgh. Rudock retook the starting job a week later, though.
Before that, a knee injury sidelined Ricky Stanzi in 2009. Redshirt freshman James Vandenberg lasted just two games as QB No. 1 before a healthy Stanzi retook the starting job.
One has to look even further into the record book to find a midseason quarterback change that was permanent.
Ferentz hasn’t executed a quarterback switch that he stuck with for the rest of the year since Stanzi beat out Jake Christensen in 2008.
Whether the Petras-to-Padilla move becomes permanent remains unclear.
Ferentz said Tuesday he sees Padilla competing for the starting spot after Petras is 100 percent healthy — Padilla “helped himself” against Northwestern — but any long-term decision would be “really premature.”
“We have two guys that have played pretty well,” Ferentz said. “We know more now than we did a week ago. That's for sure.”
In the meantime, Iowa is embracing its newly-minted starter.
“I’m very happy for him,” wide receiver Arland Bruce IV said. “He deserves all of it.”
Bruce, who worked with Padilla extensively on the second team in practice, said the sophomore is handling what’s projected to be his first career start just like any other game.
“He’s just kept the same approach,” Bruce said. “He comes with the same work ethic every day — no matter if he’s starting, second string, third string.”
Bruce and fellow wide receiver Keagan Johnson’s time on the second team with Padilla has given the two true freshman receivers a head start with the new starter.
“I’ve definitely built confidence with him,” Bruce said. “I think he has confidence in me.”
Petras, meanwhile, has still been finding ways to help without using his injured shoulder.
“Every time I come here, his truck is one of the first ones here and one of the last ones to leave,” Bruce said.
Defensive end Joe Evans has noticed Petras “being high-energy and getting the troops together and stuff like that” in practice.
Meanwhile, Petras, an intrepid competitor, has to cope with not being able to compete on the field quite yet.
“I’m sure it’s a lot for him, but you can’t really tell,” Bruce said. “He’s got the same attitude in the building. He’s got the same work ethic. He’s the same guy.”
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