116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Spencer Petras recently learned another “Norm Parker-ism.”
“You can’t be a light switch,” the Iowa quarterback said, recalling wisdom from the late longtime defensive coordinator. “A light switch is on one day, off the next, not controlled by themselves.”
Now it’s up to Iowa’s offense to avoid being a light switch in 2022 after flickering in 2021.
“We don’t want to be that as an offense,” Petras said at Friday’s annual media day. “We want to show up every day and do great, and we’re certainly working at that.”
Iowa’s offense is well aware of its shortcomings from the previous season.
“We didn’t perform as well as we’d like to last year,” offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz said.
Ferentz discussed some of his preferred statistical markers Friday. Many of them did not look good for the Hawkeyes in 2021.
He likes yards per carry and completion percentage “if you’re measuring efficiency.” Iowa was 105th and 114th in the FBS in those categories, respectively.
“If you’re completing balls at 56 percent, that’s not good,” Brian Ferentz said. “That means four out of 10 plays at least, you’re not advancing the ball.”
He views third downs as “critical.” Iowa was 110th in third-down conversion percentage. The former New England Patriots assistant puts an asterisk on that statistic, though.
“Oftentimes, we’re going to be playing for four downs,” Ferentz said. “So when we call a third-down play, we treat it like second. We know we have another down.”
Ferentz used the example of going 5-for-10 on third downs and 1-for-1 on fourth downs.
“Then we’re actually sustaining drives 60 percent of the times that we have an opportunity,” Ferentz said.
With the season opener about three weeks away, Iowa can’t think too much about those numbers.
“You kind of have to take notice of what we did last year — the good and the bad — but also you can’t well on it,” Iowa quarterback Alex Padilla said. “We’re turning the page on a new year.”
Nine days after the start of fall camp, it’s still early to know how much improvement the offense will have in the 2022 chapter of Iowa football.
“What is the jump going to be? I don’t know,” Ferentz said. “I don’t want to make a prediction or a proclamation, but I would like to see us play much more efficient and effective offense.”
Head coach Kirk Ferentz has put an emphasis on executing “makeable plays” that the offense often missed in 2021.
“We’ve been doing a better job so far this fall camp,” Padilla said. “If you don’t make the plays when they’re there, you’re obviously not going to win the game, so that’s been a big focus of our offense this offseason.”
As for the most high-profile position on the offense, Kirk Ferentz reiterated that the competition between Padilla and Petras remains open.
“After 20 practices, we'll know a little bit more,” Kirk Ferentz said.
Both quarterbacks showed optimism in Friday’s interviews.
Padilla said he’s grown in “understanding the timing” of the game at the Big Ten level.
“Once you get out in actual game experience, you kind of understand how fast the dudes are out there,” Padilla said. “This offseason, I kind of made a big emphasis on that — just trying to get the ball where it needs to go on the clock that we have to have it out on.”
Petras, whose shoulder injury hampered his 2021 season, described himself as a “beacon of health” at this point in fall camp.
How much of a jump can he make after completing 57 percent of passes last year?
“We’ll see, time will tell,” Petras said. “The results will show Sept. 3.”
Until then, the Hawkeyes have another three weeks to work on avoiding being a “light switch.”
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