Iowa football notebook | Petras taking second-team reps, Moss not ruling out another year

Alex Padilla is listed as Iowa’s starter on the depth chart this week. Spencer Petras could be available to back him up.

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Jerod Ringwald

Iowa defensive back Riley Moss returns an interception for a touchdown during a football game between No. 18 Iowa and No. 17 Indiana at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. (Jerod Ringwald/The Daily Iowan)

Robert Read, Pregame Editor


Iowa cornerback Riley Moss will go through Senior Day ceremonies on Saturday before Iowa’s game against Illinois as if he is playing his last game at Kinnick Stadium — even if he might not be.

Moss, who is tied for the Big Ten lead with four interceptions this season despite missing three games with a PCL injury in his left knee, said Tuesday that he has not decided if he will take advantage of the extra year of eligibility being provided by the NCAA because of the pandemic. Fifth-year senior Matt Hankins, the starting cornerback opposite Moss, opted to use his extra year of eligibility to return for this season.

“I don’t know for sure,” Moss said. “Just in case it is, I’m going to make sure I get the full experience … It’s what you hear from the little birdies up in the NFL and what they’re telling you about where they see you. Plus what my coaches are telling me. Yeah, after the season I’ll sit down with my parents and figure out what I want to do.”

Other seniors, including wide receiver Charlie Jones and offensive guard Kyler Schott, were also non-committal about returning after this season. Junior center Tyler Linderbaum, a presumed first-round pick if he enters the NFL Draft, also said he has not yet put any thought into whether or not he will come back next year.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said on Tuesday he reached out to seniors during the bye week to gather their thoughts on coming back for another season, and will do so again after the regular season ends.

Sixteen seniors will be honored on Saturday during the last Iowa home football game of the 2021 season.

Petras taking second-team reps

Spencer Petras, Iowa’s starting quarterback to begin the year, is fully healthy after injuring his right throwing shoulder against Wisconsin on Oct. 30, Ferentz said. Petras has practiced twice this week, taking snaps with the second-team offense.

Alex Padilla remains the listed starter at quarterback on the depth chart after making his first-career start against Minnesota. Deuce Hogan is listed as the backup. Ferentz did not outright say that Padilla will start against Illinois or clarify what Petras’ role will be on game day if he remains healthy.

Petras suited up against Minnesota last weekend, but didn’t even throw a pass in warmups. While he may have his throwing strength back this week, there are other things holding him back at the moment.

“Timing and accuracy are probably the biggest things he’s got to get back,” Ferentz said. “A week ago, he couldn’t throw the ball down the field.”

Bielema out against Iowa

Former Iowa football player and assistant coach Bret Bielema, now in his first year as the head coach at Illinois, won’t be making his return trip to Kinnick Stadium on Saturday when the Fighting Illini take on the Hawkeyes.

Bielema, who is vaccinated and received his booster shot last week, tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday night and will not travel to Iowa City for this week’s game. Assistant head coach/wide receivers coach George McDonald will be the acting head coach for Illinois against Iowa in Bielema’s absence.

“I was very sad to hear the news about coach Bielema,” Ferentz said. “That’s certainly not a good thing and not something you’d wish on anybody. I wish Bret the best for a speedy recovery. It serves as a reminder that [the pandemic] isn’t over yet.”

The Illini are 4-6 to start Bielema’s first year at the helm of the program.

Bielema played nose guard at Iowa from 1989-92 under former Iowa head coach Hayden Fry, and spent time on the Hawkeye coaching staff as a graduate assistant (1994-95) and linebackers coach (1996-2001) under Fry and then Ferentz.

This is Bielema’s second stint as a head coach in the Big Ten.

For seven years, Bielema led the Wisconsin football program. Before leaving to coach Arkansas late in 2012, Bielema went 68-24 with the Badgers and made two trips to the Rose Bowl. This is Bielema’s first year back in college football since Arkansas fired him in 2013. He spent 2018-20 as an assistant coach in the NFL.

Bielema, who has a TigerHawk logo on his calf, will virtually help his team prepare for this week’s game, and hopes to be back to in-person activities by next week.

“Our team has shown repeatedly this year that next man up is the standard, not the exception,” Bielema said in a statement released on Tuesday. “And this will be another example of this mentality in our Illini FamILLy.”

Iowa played Purdue last season when the Boilermakers’ head coach, Jeff Brohm, was out for the game with COVID-19. The Hawkeyes lost in West Lafayette, 24-20, to open the 2020 season.

A change at wide receiver, plus injury updates

In a since-deleted tweet sent on Sunday night, Iowa wide receiver Tyrone Tracy Jr. said, “Why have a swiss army knife and not use it to its full potential.”

Tracy, listed as a starter on Iowa’s depth chart through the first 10 games of the season, was down as a second-string wide receiver on the two-deep released on Monday. It’s unclear if the tweet had any influence on the decision.

Freshman Keagan Johnson, who has started the last five games, officially took Tracy’s spot as a starter on the depth chart opposite Nico Ragaini. Fellow first-year receiver Arland Bruce IV is making his first appearance on the depth chart as a second-string receiver instead of Jones.

“Keagan has just been performing really well,” Ferentz said. “We like both of those guys. Tyrone is a really good football player. [The depth chart] isn’t a really big deal, quite frankly. It depends on personnel groups. I think we have a really healthy group of receivers.

“I think that’s a young guy who wants to help the football team,” Ferentz added about the tweet. “I think that’s his way of expressing it. That’s a common way to express things today, I’ve been told.”

Johnson broke through multiple tackles on a 27-yard touchdown reception in Iowa’s win over Minnesota last weekend. The 6-foot-1, 197-pounder has caught 15 passes for 316 yards (second on the team behind tight end Sam LaPorta) and two touchdowns this season. Tracy has recorded 15 receptions for 106 yards and a score this season.

In other depth chart news, Ferentz added that cornerback Terry Roberts, running back Ivory Kelly-Martin, and offensive tackle Mason Richman likely won’t play this week, although Kelly-Martin could be in for some limited snaps on special teams.

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