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IOWA CITY — Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz is not ready yet to officially declare a starting quarterback for Iowa’s Dec. 31 appearance in the Music City Bowl against Kentucky.
But whoever it is will be throwing the first pass of their college football career.
Iowa’s first-team quarterback Spencer Petras’ needed surgery for his shoulder injury and is expected to miss “several months.” Iowa’s second-team quarterback Alex Padilla entered the transfer portal as a graduate transfer.
That leaves Iowa with freshmen Joe Labas and Carson May as the only scholarship quarterbacks available. Ferentz will “let those guys work the next four weeks” before naming a starter.
“Both those guys have done a good job,” Ferentz said. “They’re good, young guys. And obviously they’re lacking experience right now, and that’s our job to move them forward.”
It’s not just game experience that they’re lacking. It’s also practice opportunities outside of the scout team.
“Typically in any year, most of the reps go to your one and two guys when you’re practicing,” Ferentz said.
The staff tries to set aside some plays for guys who are not on the two-deeps, Ferentz said, but “it’s not the same as working with the ones or twos.”
“It never has been, never will be,” Ferentz said.
The only time either quarterback has performed in the public eye since stepping foot on campus has been in Iowa’s open practices.
Labas threw two interceptions in Iowa’s Kids’ Day open practice in August, although his footwork was encouraging. May did not take snaps in the 11-on-11 drills.
Kentucky could be in a similar position.
Its starting quarterback, Will Levis, said last week he plans to enter the NFL Draft although he had not decided yet on whether to play in the Wildcats’ bowl game.
The Wildcats have listed freshmen Kaiya Sheron and Destin Wade as the second-string quarterbacks. Former Iowa quarterback Deuce Hogan would be another option.
Sheron has appeared in four games this season, completing 17 of 29 passes while throwing two touchdowns and one interception.
Wade and Hogan have not received any game action since arriving at Kentucky. Hogan completed one 2-yard pass at Iowa before transferring after the 2021 season.
Looking past the bowl game, Petras still has his extra COVID-19 year of eligibility.
Incoming transfer Cade McNamara almost certainly will be the starter, so it would be a backup role. A lengthy recovery from surgery may also disincentivize playing at Iowa for a sixth year.
“It’s probably unrealistic to think that he’ll be able to throw a ball for several months now, including spring,” Ferentz said.