Iowa football doesn't name a starting quarterback for Citrus Bowl, but Spencer Petras seems to have the lead

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

WINTER GARDEN, Fla. — Four days ahead of Iowa’s Citrus Bowl matchup with Kentucky, the Hawkeyes have yet to announce a starting quarterback.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz said after Tuesday’s practice at West Orange High School that he would make a determination later in the week between Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla, who have teamed up to help Iowa assemble a 10-3 record this season.

“We’re just watching guys practice right now. They’re both doing a good job,” Ferentz said. “We’re pleased with the play of both Alex and Spencer.”

Iowa has another practice Wednesday before Thursday’s scheduled off day from football activities. It’s likely that if there’s indeed a final decision to be made, Thursday would be when offensive coaches would make that determination. Ferentz and Kentucky coach Mark Stoops are scheduled to have a Friday press conference ahead of Saturday’s Noon CT game, so we should have more QB clarity by then.

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Still, the primary indicators are that Petras will start on Saturday. The redshirt junior who has a 13-5 record as Iowa’s starter over two seasons said Tuesday he was 100% healthy with no limitations. Petras suffered significant bruising after leaving the Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan with a midsection injury, and his injury status clouded the QB situation during bowl prep.

Petras was the No. 1 quarterback in Iowa’s team period that was open to the media early in Tuesday’s practice, though both QBs have been working with the first team during bowl preparations. Petras is also listed at No. 1 on Iowa's Citrus Bowl depth chart.

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Padilla was asked if he knew who would start Saturday. He deferred all playing-time questions to Ferentz, who did dismiss the idea that Petras and Padilla could rotate series. That was the approach Iowa took with with Jake Rudock and C.J. Beathard in the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl — the last time there was a season-ending debate over the best quarterback to move the team forward.

“Not planning on it, no,” Ferentz said.

Though Padilla (3-0 as a starter) has more mobility but less experience than Petras, Ferentz didn’t see withholding the decision as a huge competitive advantage.

“I don’t know how dramatically different they are,” Ferentz said. “But a little different preparation, so if it keeps our opponent on their toes a little bit, that’s OK.”