Iowa Football

Iowa faces another week of wondering who the opponent's quarterback is going to be

Nebraska not saying if it'll be Adrian Martinez or Luke McCaffrey

Nebraska quarterback Luke McCaffrey (7) throws an interception while under pressure from Illinois linebacker Khalan Tols
Nebraska quarterback Luke McCaffrey (7) throws an interception while under pressure from Illinois linebacker Khalan Tolson (45) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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The Iowa Hawkeyes will play a game sometime before the conclusion of this college football season where they’ll know 100 percent who will be the opposing team’s starting quarterback. Well, probably.

But they go into this week having to go about guessing again.

Nebraska isn’t declaring its QB starter for Black Friday’s game at Kinnick Stadium (Noon, Fox). It’ll be either junior Adrian Martinez or redshirt freshman Luke McCaffrey, that much is known.

This is exactly like last week, when Penn State wouldn’t reveal its starter until game time. Will Levis was the winner there, with Sean Clifford also playing.

“They’re both extremely mobile,” said Iowa linebacker Nick Niemann, of Martinez and McCaffrey. “The guy at Penn State last week (Levis) was mobile, but these guys are pretty fast. We’ve seen Martinez the last couple of years, and he can extend plays with his feet, make plays. Same with the McCaffrey kid. He’s a good athlete. Durable runners, both of them. I think they are pretty similar in senses. I’ll probably just leave it at that. They’re both going to be good. Whoever goes out there is going to be ready to play and going to run the offense. So we’ve just got to be ready for whoever that is.”

Martinez has made 23 starts in his career, including the first two games this season for Nebraska (1-3). But he was benched in favor of McCaffrey in a Week 2 loss to Northwestern.

The brother of star NFL running back Christian McCaffrey started the Cornhuskers’ last two games to mixed results, including a 41-23 loss last week to Illinois. So you figure this thing out.

Iowa’s not sweating it, regardless.

“They’re both mobile guys,” said defensive end Chauncey Golston. “Luke’s a McCaffrey, so that’s just known. Adrian is more of a passer. But they’re both guys who can beat you with their speed. So we just have to prepare for that, especially when you are a D-lineman, and you are rushing ... It’s the same preparation. I’m not a guy on the back end, so the passing part doesn’t really affect me. I have to pay more attention to them running.”

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“Both quarterbacks are again very dangerous,” said Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz. “They can hurt you maybe in a different way than the guys from Penn State hurt you. Getting hurt is getting hurt, doesn’t matter how it is. Both these guys are capable of making plays with their feet, with their arm and their head. It’s one of those deals where there’s a lot of pressure on your defense at every position because both these quarterbacks can run, they can get outside and throw it, they can get outside and run it. That makes it a big challenge for us.”

Quick slants

— Ferentz said starting right tackle Mark Kallenberger is wait and see as far as playing this week. Kallenberger was injured against Penn State. If he can’t go, sophomore Jack Plumb would get the start.

In other offensive line news, Ferentz said guard Kyler Schott will see some playing time against Nebraska. The North Linn grad has been out the last three weeks with what is believed to be mononucleosis. Coy Cronk, another original starter at tackle, also has a chance to be back.

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras, by the way, was wearing a hooded sweatshirt during Tuesday’s Zoom media gathering that said “Schott Squad” on the front, with a state of Iowa map and a star designating Coggon (Schott’s hometown).

“I think it was a game last year, I saw his whole family wearing them, as I was walking back from the stadium,” said Petras, turning around to show “64” on the back with Schott’s name atop it. “I shot him a text that night saying ‘How do I get one?’ I think I sent him, like, 20 bucks, whatever it was. Couple weeks later, I got it. Schott Squad, with the Schott 64 on the back. Hey, he helps me out, I help him out a little bit spreading the word on the Schott Squad.”

— Slot receiver Niko Ragaini said you can expect a couple more members of his immediate family to be University of Iowa students. Apparently sister, Isabella, plans to enroll next year. She’s attending a community college near the Ragaini home in Connecticut. Youngest sister, Taya, is a sophomore in high school with her eye on becoming a Hawkeye.

“Me and my dad and other family members were doing the math the other day,” Nico Ragaini said. “Everyone was making fun of me because I could end up being here a really long time with this COVID year and redshirting. There is a possible chance I could be on campus with both of my sisters here, which would actually be crazy but probably will happen. They love coming out to the games, my family loves it here. I have such a tight-knit Italian family, I love my sisters, so if they both decide to come here, that’d be pretty cool.”

— It turns out Daviyon Nixon and Luka Garza are kind of boys. The defensive tackle was asked by the Big Ten Network postgame last week about his interception return for TD and the Euro-step basketball move he used to break into the clear and to the end zone. He was asked if maybe he and Garza, Iowa’s All-America center, might have a little basketball competition against each other someday.

Garza retweeted the clip with a “I see you bro @DaviyonNixon.“

“I know Luka very well, honestly,” Nixon said, Tuesday. “I’m not sure what it’d be like if we ever played against each other basketball one-on-one. But me and Luka, it’s pretty much brotherly love. I go to the basketball games and try to support when I can. He goes to the football games and tries to support when he can. We’ve known each other for a while now, so it’s just a bunch of love between us two.”

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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