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IOWA CITY — Barring upsets by double-digit underdogs Northwestern and Indiana Saturday, the schedule will be relatively light for Iowa football next week — “a little bit more time off this week than we wanted,” Kirk Ferentz said.
The program will “give the guys some time to recover, relax a little bit and recharge,” Ferentz said, now that a Big Ten championship game berth is most likely out of the picture.
Between the transfer portal, extra COVID-19 years of eligibility and bowl opt-ins or opt-outs, some Iowa football players will have a lot to reflect on in the next month before Iowa’s next game.
Quarterback Alex Padilla is among the Hawkeyes who will have a decision to make about whether to stay or enter the transfer portal.
“I feel like this situation was really good for me — to come back into a competition,” Padilla said after Iowa’s open spring practice.
But Padilla did not have opportunities in games when starter Spencer Petras went 11-for-25 against an FCS school or 12-for-26 against an Iowa State team that has only one Big 12 win.
Even when Iowa built a 27-point lead against Nevada or a 19-point lead against Northwestern, Ferentz did not give Padilla any in-game snaps in garbage time.
His first in-game opportunity came in the second half of the loss to No. 2 Ohio State after Petras had two interceptions in the first half. His only other in-game action came after Petras’ injury in Friday’s loss to Nebraska.
Padilla said he is only “reflecting on this loss,” though, for now.
“I haven't had the chance to really think about any of that right now,” Padilla said. “I’ll have time to reflect in the next couple weeks, but we’ll see what happens.”
Wide receiver could be another interesting position with the transfer portal. Four players left after the 2021 season, and now Purdue’s Charlie Jones has been a case study of what receivers can do in pass-heavy systems.
Seniors will need to decide whether to use their extra COVID-19 year of eligibility. Ferentz has said earlier this month preliminary conversations about possibly using the extra year have not happened yet.
Possible NFL prospects opting out of lower-tier bowl games has been increasingly common across the country although not as much at Iowa.
Running back Tyler Goodson was the only opt-out last year. Center Tyler Linderbaum played in the bowl game — he in jest called even asking about it a “dumb question” — and paid the price with an injury that lingered in the following months.
Linebacker Jack Campbell removed any fans’ concern about whether he would opt out with a simple answer Friday after the 24-17 loss to the Huskers.
“No,” Campbell said.
Campbell made the case for why other players should make that same decision as well.
“Any time you get the opportunity to throw the Tigerhawk on the side of your head and wear that jersey, I feel like that's an opportunity that every kid should seize,” Campbell said. “But again, it’s everyone’s decision. They can do what they want.”
- Ferentz received a “pretty optimistic report in the locker room” about defensive back Cooper DeJean, who exited the game with an injury. When asked whether it was concussion protocol, Ferentz said he was “not sure.”
- Petras’ injury is “upper body, shoulder,” Ferentz said. He does not expect to know more until Monday.
- Linebacker Jay Higgins, who missed Friday’s game, suffered a “kind of freakish” injury Wednesday. Ferentz thought “maybe he’d have a chance” to play against Nebraska before the medical staff “ruled him out even before they left the hotel.” He anticipated a return “sometime next week.”
- Wide receiver Keagan Johnson played for the first time since Iowa’s 27-0 win against Nevada in a limited role. He did not have any targets. Ferentz said he was “fine” from a health standpoint after the game.