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INDIANAPOLIS — It didn’t take long for Sam LaPorta to come up with a person or position in particular he’s excited about for the 2022 football season.
“I’m really looking forward to the running back play,” the Iowa tight end said without hesitation at the Big Ten media days. “We got a small taste of that in the bowl game with Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams.”
LaPorta wasn’t the only one excited about the offense in Indianapolis.
Despite the team’s statistically-subpar offensive showing in 2021, there’s plenty of optimism for 2022.
Part of the reason comes from Ferentz seeing “a lot of makeable plays” on film that are correctable for 2022.
“If we can’t make some of the plays that we missed last year, we’re not going to be very good,” Ferentz said. “If you look at our bowl game, to me, that’s something to be optimistic about. But that’s if we make the plays that we leave out there (in 2021).”
Those “makeable” plays aren’t hard to find on film. Many rushing attempts that maybe could’ve been a 1-yard gain turned into 2- or 3-yard losses.
Quarterbacks Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla completed 57 and 49 percent of their passes, respectively.
Some of those misses were results of drops. Some were off-the-mark passes to open receivers. Both would probably fall into the “makeable” category.
Ferentz expects Petras and Padilla to take the next step in 2022 after spending another year in Iowa’s system.
“The history of our program typically is our older guys get better,” Ferentz said.
The improvement among quarterbacks at Iowa usually isn’t drastic, though.
Nate Stanley’s completion percentage between his sophomore and senior years were fewer than 4 percent apart from each other. C.J. Beathard’s completion rate rose from 56.5 percent as a sophomore to 61.6 percent as a junior, but went back down to 56.5 percent as a senior.
Ferentz has often brought attention to Iowa’s win-loss record while Petras and Padilla manned the position as evidence of success with them.
Iowa went 10-4 last year with Petras and Padilla both starting games and 6-2 in the shortened 2020 season with Petras at the helm.
“We've got two quarterbacks that have won games for us and played well on the field,” Ferentz said.
Iowa’s defense and special teams had a major role in that winning, though. ESPN’s Football Power Index ranked the Hawkeyes sixth in special teams efficiency, seventh in defensive efficiency and 96th in offensive efficiency in 2022.
“Right now, I consider it an open competition,” Petras said. “Consistency is going to be the biggest part.”
The competition comes amid some changes to who is coaching the quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz switched from coaching tight ends to coaching quarterbacks, and Jon Budmayr is on staff as an analyst.
Kirk Ferentz said Brian Ferentz has done a “great job” in his first offseason coaching quarterbacks.
Budmayr coached quarterbacks at Wisconsin for three seasons and was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Colorado State in 2021.
"I think the world of Jon,” Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said. ”He's talented in a number of ways. … I'm sure he'll add a lot for them.“
Ferentz described Budmayr as a “great resource” while he is in between position coach jobs.
“It’s kind of like a gift from heaven, quite frankly,” Kirk Ferentz said. “We tried to recruit Jon once. Failed. But we finally got him to Iowa.”
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