Iowa football notebook: Taylor looking to improve on stellar freshman season; Tracy on Petras, and more
By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Tory Taylor is probably the first player in the history of the Iowa football program to be named first-team All-Big Ten not only as a freshman, but also in his first year playing American football.
The Melbourne, Australia, native averaged 44.6 yards per punt in 2020 and was named Big Ten Punter of the Year and a semifinalist for the Ray Gay Award.
“It was obviously great to win a couple individual accolades,” Taylor said. “But there were a lot of goals that I set for myself that I didn’t reach, mostly statistics goals that I didn’t reach which was unfortunate. I was happy. Obviously, being my first season I had never really played and didn’t really know too much about it.”
Of Taylor’s 40 punts last season, just one was a traditional punt. The rest were of the rugby variety.
Taylor said he has spent a lot of time during the offseason working on the traditional style of punting.
“That’s been the biggest focus for me during spring ball and over the offseason,” Taylor said. “There’s a couple guys I’m going to go see over the break. I know to take my game to the next level and further progress career-wise, that’s one thing I know I need to do a lot better.”
Max-imum health: Senior receiver Max Cooper has battled injuries during his career at Iowa.
The Waukesha, Wis., native decided to use the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic to come back for one last ride with Iowa.
Cooper missed all of the 2020 season due to a hamstring injury suffered during the preseason.
“It was definitely one of those situations where I had to talk go back to my parents and talk about it and think about it,” Cooper said. “With all the injuries I’ve had in the past, it was kind of an easy decision to come back, just because I want to be one of those more experienced guys being able to lead the younger guys coming in.”
The 6-foot, 192-pound Cooper is currently listed as a backup to junior Tyrone Tracy at receiver.
He has four career catches for 12 yards.
“Knowing that I get an extra year and hopefully I’ll play in front of fans this year, it’s definitely exciting,” Cooper said. “It’s one of those things where I was beyond excited about coming back. Just being able to get a chance to play in front of a crowd and hopefully continue to stay healthy.”
Petras more accurate: Junior quarterback Spencer Petras said recently that he wants to improve on his 57% completion rate from last season.
According to junior receiver Tyrone Tracy, Petras is well on his way to doing just that.
Petras finished last season ranked fifth in the Big Ten with 1,569 passing yards. He also threw nine touchdowns and five interceptions.
“Spencer wasn’t super accurate last fall,” Tracy said. “But right now he’s putting the ball on the money. He’s being a great leader. He’s always been a great leader, but right now he has more respect because he’s been on the field for a year and he knows what he’s doing, he’s a vet.”
Different without Doyle: Tracy was asked Tuesday about how Iowa’s weight room has changed over the last 10 months with Raimond Braithwaite.
Braithwaite replaced former strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle, who reached a separation agreement with Iowa last June after several former players came forward with accusations of racial bias.
“Nothing has really changed,” Tracy said. “Ray is more calm. He doesn’t really yell a lot. He understands that he doesn’t have to yell to get his point across. He lets the leaders on the team take action. If the younger guys on the team aren’t following directions, he makes sure that we are holding ourselves accountable. That’s one of the things that Ray has changed since he took over. He’s making sure everyone on the team is helping everyone on the team.”
Braithwaite is in his 17th year overall at Iowa. He served as the head strength and conditioning coach at Delaware State from 2005-07 before returning to Iowa in 2008.