Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz noncommittal on QB after Spencer Petras, Alex Padilla play against No. 2 Ohio State

After Padilla played his first snaps of the season on Saturday, Ferentz said he’ll evaluate game tape before making a decision.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa quarterback Alex Padilla interacts with his team on the sideline during a football game between Iowa and No. 2 Ohio State at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022. Padilla saw action in a game this season for the first time. The Buckeyes defeated the Hawkeyes, 54-10.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Iowa football backup quarterback Alex Padilla played his first snaps of the season on Saturday afternoon against No. 2 Ohio State.

The Hawkeyes’ change at quarterback came after starter Spencer Petras committed three turnovers — two interceptions, including a pick six, and one fumble — in the first half.  He completed six of his 14 passes for 49 yards. 

“I just think, at that point, it was the best thing to do,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said postgame. “But it’s a tough situation for either quarterback, probably.”

After halftime, Petras put on the red hat Iowa’s backup quarterbacks wear while Padilla took the field. When Padilla hit the turf for the first time, the Hawkeye offense had optimal field position at the Ohio State 44-yard line because of an interception from linebacker Jack Campbell.

Then, on Padilla’s first play of the 2022 season, the ball was fumbled and recovered by Ohio State.

“I have no frustration,” Campbell said of the fumble after his interception. “I love going out there and playing football. Anytime I get to be on the field, I’m gonna give it everything I got, and you saw that today … Stuff happens. You just got to keep moving on and have a great attitude.”

The fumble was Padilla’s first snap with first-year center Logan Jones in a game situation. While the two practiced snapping the ball in practice and during halftime on Saturday, Padilla said nothing could emulate Ohio Stadium’s environment.

“I haven’t ever been in a game with Logan before, so there’s obviously some new stuff with that,” Padilla said. “And then a little bit of nerves and stuff like that, entering a game like this. So, probably a combination of all those things. But it’s unacceptable, obviously, and something that we got to clean up.”

Padilla also threw an interception on the Hawkeyes’ second drive of the second half. He settled in after two turnovers, frequently scrambling out of the pocket to avoid sacks. 

Overall, Padilla went 5-of-10 for 32 yards. The junior QB ended the game with a 56.9 quarterback rating, compared to Petras’ 43.7.

“I thought both quarterbacks tried to compete and do their best out there, so we’re going to take tomorrow and see what we can do,” Ferentz said. “But, Alex, as I’ve said, he’s practiced well, and he’s totally invested, just like Spencer is. And again, it was a tough situation for him to enter the game.”

Following Iowa’s 54-10 loss to Ohio State, Ferentz was noncommittal on which quarterback will start next Saturday against Northwestern at Kinnick Stadium. He said the coaching staff and players will take a look at game tape on Sunday and make a decision from there. 

But if Padilla gets another chance next week, he said he’s prepared for the opportunity. 

“I want to be in there, but that’s a coach’s decision,” Padilla said. “I work really hard in practice every day, Spencer does too, but that’s just kind of the nature of the game. Only one guy can be in there. So, we both want to be in there helping our team out.”

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Ferentz made QB changes around the same time in the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Padilla started playing heavy minutes in the ninth game of the 2021 season against Northwestern. He then went on to start three games for the Hawkeyes before Petras returned from an injury. The Hawkeyes won all four games that Padilla played at least one half in last season.

So far this year, Petras has completed 93 of his 175 attempted passes for two touchdowns and five interceptions. As a whole, Iowa’s offense has seven touchdowns in seven games. 

“I don’t have the answer,” Ferentz said of the Hawkeyes’ offensive struggles. “We should’ve scored more points today, and we’ll just keep pushing forward and trying to try to find a better solution.”

Ferentz is, however, adamant that a change at offensive coordinator isn’t the answer the Hawkeyes’ problem. Ferentz’s son, Brian Ferentz, is in his sixth year as Iowa’s offensive coordinator.

Iowa had just 158 offensive yards on Saturday afternoon — down from the last-in-the-nation average of 238.8 it posted ahead of the matchup against Ohio State. The Hawkeyes’ average offensive yardage per game dropped to 227.3 following the contest.

“I’ve never done that in my career,” Kirk said of making a midseason coaching change. “I don’t plan on starting right now. Our approach has always been to address what’s out there and see what we can do to improve, and it’s been pretty consistent for almost 24 years now. And that’s the plan moving forward. It’s been fairly successful.”

Kirk added quarterback and offensive coordinator are two very different jobs with separate responsibilities. Although offensive coordinators have been fired at other schools this year, Kirk said it’s not his preference to terminate coaches during the season. Kirk said he will evaluate his coaching staff when the season is over.

Kirk also emphasized Brian is not getting special treatment because of family ties.

“We’ve tried to treat everybody with consistency on our staff, past and present, same thing with players,” Ferentz said. “We’ve had three family members play, as well, in our program, and they’ve got to earn everything they get, just like coaches do.”