Iowa football notebook | Citrus Bowl edition

The Hawkeyes have not named their start quarterback for the Citrus Bowl and will be without starting running back Tyler Goodson against Kentucky.


Grace Smith

Iowa running back Tyler Goodson rushes the ball as quarterback Spencer Petras fakes a pass during a football game between No. 16 Iowa and Nebraska at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Corn Huskers 28-21. (Grace Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz has not named a starting quarterback for the Citrus Bowl, nor has he indicated if Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla will both see snaps against Kentucky.

Petras started nine games during the regular season, all eight of Iowa’s games in 2020, and the Big Ten Championship Game. The redshirt junior suffered a torso injury in the first half against Michigan. Alex Padilla, who has started three games for Iowa this year, relieved Petras in the third quarter against the Wolverines.

A depth chart for the Citrus Bowl has not been released yet. Despite not naming a starter yet, Ferentz did say he expects Petras to be healthy enough to play in the Citrus Bowl.

“He had a tough night [against Michigan],” Ferentz said. “There was some discomfort. As far as I understand right now, there’s really – nothing is in danger, no organs, anything like that. He took a pretty good shot. It wasn’t to the head. He took a shot. He at least strained some stuff in his abdominal area. So, he’s going to be fine, but he’s in discomfort here and probably will be for a while.”

Petras has completed 56.6 percent of his passes for 1,669 yards, nine touchdowns, and six interceptions this season. Padilla, a redshirt sophomore, is completing 49.1 percent of his throws for 636 yards and has tossed two touchdowns and two picks this season.

An update on Iowa’s running backs room

Iowa’s 123rd-ranked offense will head into the Citrus Bowl without its top rusher.

Junior running back Tyler Goodson announced on Dec. 10 that he is declaring for the NFL Draft and will not play in the Citrus Bowl against Kentucky. Goodson, Iowa’s leading rusher in each of the last three seasons, ran for a team-leading 1,151 yards this year, the 10th-best single-season mark in program history.

RELATED: Iowa running back Tyler Goodson declares for NFL Draft, opts out of Citrus Bowl

“Similar to a lot of young kids growing up, I have always dreamed of the opportunity to play in the National Football League and I am beyond grateful that the time is quickly approaching,” Goodson said in a statement. “I will forever consider myself a Hawkeye and look forward to making my family, friends, and Hawkeye Nation proud at the next level.”

“Tyler has been a valuable member of our program throughout his career, and we wish him nothing but success as he pursues his next phase in life and football,” Ferentz said in a release. “Tyler enjoys the game of football. His passion and energy are evident on a daily basis, and we are appreciative of his many contributions to our program. It has been a pleasure having Tyler and his family as part of our program.”

With Goodson’s departure, only four running backs remain on Iowa’s roster: Senior Ivory Kelly-Martin, redshirt freshmen Gavin Williams and Leshon Williams, and true freshman Deavin Hilson. Collectively, they will try to make up for the production of a player who started the last 25 games in the backfield for the Hawkeyes.

Kelly-Martin missed the last month of the regular season with a foot injury, but played on special teams against Michigan. The fifth-year senior has been plagued by fumbling issues throughout the season. He lost the ball twice against Kent State and has not recorded a rushing attempt since fumbling against Wisconsin on Oct. 30. Gavin Williams has slid into Iowa’s No. 2 running back role in Kelly-Martin’s absence. He is Iowa’s second-leading rusher this season (207 yards) and led Iowa with 56 yards against Michigan. Leshon Williams has only touched the ball 11 times this season, gaining 27 yards.

“The two young guys in the room are very talented,” running backs coach Ladell Betts said of both Gavin and Leshon in September. “I think people will be pleasantly surprised when they get a chance to watch both of them play. I’m sure it’s tough for them not to get reps as a competitor. I know that feeling. I’ve been in that position.”

Linderbaum, Belton not opting out

Goodson appears to be the only Hawkeye who opted to not make the trip to Orlando, Florida.

Center Tyler Linderbaum and defensive back Dane Belton both plan to play in the Citrus Bowl, they said on Dec. 5. Linderbaum, a redshirt junior, is a projected first-round NFL draft pick and was recently named the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year, the Rimington Award winner, and a first-team All-American.

Linderbaum quickly shut down any possibility that he would opt out of the bowl game to pursue his NFL career early.

“Yeah, dumb question,” Linderbaum said with a smirk to a reporter.

Linderbaum and Belton both said they have not explored receiving NFL feedback yet, which would indicate where they might go in the 2022 NFL Draft. Belton, a junior, is coming off a first-team All-Big Ten season and leads the conference in interceptions with five.

“To be honest, I haven’t really given it much thought,” Belton said. “I was just focused on the season. If I have an opportunity to see the evaluation, I might explore that. It can’t hurt. At the end of the day, my focus is on this last game we have together as a team. That’s just what I’m thinking right now. That time will come. There’s a time and place for everything. I feel like right now we have a great opportunity at our hands, and to capitalize on that is what my mind is on.”

No. 15 Iowa (10-3 overall, 7-3 Big Ten) plays No. 22 Kentucky (9-3, 5-3 SEC) in the Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida on Jan. 1.

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