Alex Padilla

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

Sophomore quarterback Alex Padilla deserved and still deserves better. I think Padilla should start this Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, without question.

The 6-foot-1 hurler from Greenwood Village, Colorado, won three games under center this season. Yes, he only played part of Iowa’s 17-12 win over Northwestern, but I’m still giving him credit for that victory because the Hawkeyes’ offense looked anemic before he came in the game.

On the season, Padilla has completed 45 of his 97 pass attempts for 598 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He’s also scored once as a runner this year.

When Padilla was benched in favor of junior QB Spencer Petras against Nebraska last Friday, he hadn’t played poorly by any stretch. He went 6-of-14 for 76 yards in the first half versus the Cornhuskers. He even had a passing touchdown to tight end Sam LaPorta taken away by official replay.

First, that touchdown to LaPorta should’ve counted. Second, if that pass was ruled complete by the referees, Padilla and the Hawkeyes’ largest deficit would’ve been 21-13, not 21-6.

Had that touchdown counted, Padilla probably wouldn’t have been benched.

If the Hawkeyes want to play their best football this Saturday in Indianapolis, they need Padilla to start at quarterback.

When he’s on the field, Iowa’s offense is much more diverse and threatening. Iowa can run the option, move the pocket, and have its quarterback roll out when Padilla is in the game.

The Hawkeyes struggle to do those things when Petras is on the field. He’s not a mobile quarterback, so he can’t move or do things quite like Padilla does.

Petras also can’t scramble out of sacks like Padilla. Iowa’s offensive line has given the second-most sacks of any Big Ten team this season with 31.

If Petras is starting at quarterback Saturday, the Hawkeyes may have to deal with many plays that go for negative yardage because No. 7 might get sacked a lot. Michigan racked up the third-most sacks of any Big Ten team during the regular season.

If Padilla starts at quarterback, I think Iowa will win Saturday. If not, Dec. 4 could be a tough day for Hawkeye fans.

Facebook Comments