Iowa football notebook | Kirk Ferentz declines to name starting quarterback, Diante Vines ready to make an impact

Iowa’s head coach said he might not decide who will start at QB until Friday. Vines, a sophomore wide receiver, played his first game of the 2022 season last week.


Grace Smith

Iowa quarterbacks Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla walk onto the field during an Iowa football open practice at the Hansen Football Performance Center in Iowa City on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. Petras and Padilla both started for the Hawkeyes in the 2021-22 season.

Austin Hanson, Pregame Editor

Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz did not name a starting quarterback ahead of his team’s matchup with Northwestern. At a meeting with reporters on Tuesday, Ferentz said Iowa is still evaluating both senior Spencer Petras and junior Alex Padilla.

Ferentz added he and his staff might not decide on a starting quarterback until Friday.

The quarterback situation, we haven’t made a decision yet,” Ferentz said. “I’m not sure when we will. We’ll let both guys work with the 1s, rotating them in and out and playing that out and making a decision here during the week, kind of going from there.”

Sophomore wide receiver Arland Bruce said Petras and Padilla have been splitting the Hawkeyes’ first-team reps evenly at practice. Both quarterbacks played two quarters in Iowa’s 54-10 loss to No. 2 Ohio State last week.

Petras finished the game 6-of-14 for 49 yards and Padilla went 5-of-10 for 32 yards. Petras turned the ball over three times in the first half, and Padilla had two giveaways in the second.

“Really wasn’t much good Saturday, in general,” Ferentz said. “Didn’t matter who was in there. So, that is part of the evaluation … what we saw in practice, things we saw on Saturday, and the past. Keep pushing forward. It’s not like we have a scientific formula. We’ll see how the week plays out.”

Sophomore Diante Vines said Iowa’s wide receivers will be ready to play with either quarterback on Saturday because they have all practiced with both Petras and Padilla in the past.

“No adjustments, they’re both good quarterbacks,” Vines said. “They make the right throws, they make the right plays. We work second-string, first-string, everyone catches their balls. So, in practice, we’re always catching the ball from either Spencer or Padilla. So, it’s not really like a shock if Padilla comes in or Spencer comes in. We work with both of them in practice all the time. Everyone gets their reps with the quarterbacks. So, it’s not really a big difference.”

Iowa center Logan Jones said quarterback changes don’t make his in-game strategy any different, either. He noted his job doesn’t change when a new QB comes under center.

“I’m just putting the ball right where their hand is,” Jones said. “I mean, I have like an aiming point where I’m supposed to snap. So, it doesn’t really feel any different.”

Jones added that, because Petras is 6-foot-5 and Padilla is 6-foot-1, his margin for error on shotgun snaps is larger with Petras because the Californian can catch some of the high snaps Padilla can’t.

Padilla has appeared in eight games in his career with the Hawkeyes, completing 61 of 124 attempts for 680 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions.

Petras is 16-10 in 26 career starts in the Black and Gold. He’s completed 93 of his 175 pass attempts for 989 yards and two touchdowns in 2022. Petras has thrown five interceptions this season.

Padilla started three games in 2021 while Petras was injured, going 3-0.

Vines’ return to field giving Iowa more options at receiver

Vines missed the Hawkeyes’ first six games of the year with a wrist injury. Ferentz made Vines’ injury public at Iowa Football Media Day on Aug. 12.

Vines was hurt during the Hawkeyes’ summer training camp. At a media availability session Tuesday, Vines said he dislocated his lunate bone, which damaged the ligaments in his wrist.

“A lot of emotions that day,” Vines said. “I was having a good camp. I was having fun with it, just good weeks of practice. I felt like it was finally clicking for me. The injury was definitely demoralizing at the time. Definitely upsetting because I knew I was doing some good things. I felt like I could help our team in many different ways.” 

He played his first in-game snaps of the 2022 season against Ohio State, grabbing one pass for five yards.

“I live for that moment,” Vines said. “I was psyched that was my game I came back. Like I told them before, you dream of playing a school like Ohio State. So, for me to come back and get my first-ever catch in college against Ohio State, that was big for me. I had to hold back my smile because I know it’s been a long road for me. 

“Just being from Connecticut, you never get those big kind of stages — to come to a school like Iowa and play the No. 2 school in the nation. So, it was a really cool opportunity for me.”

Vines will add depth to Iowa’s thin wide receiver rotation. Earlier this season, redshirt freshman Brody Brecht and Bruce were the only scholarship receivers on the Hawkeyes’ weekly depth charts.

Senior Nico Ragaini missed the first two weeks of the season with a broken foot. Wideout Keagan Johnson has missed all but one of the Hawkeyes’ games this year with an undisclosed injury. Ragaini and Johnson were the top two wideouts listed on the preseason depth chart Iowa released in July.  Vines is currently a backup. Bruce and Brecht are the Hawkeyes’ starters.

“I’m hopeful we’ll see some impact,” Ferentz said of Vines’ return. “He’s a good football player. We’ve known that for a couple of years.”