By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – After giving his opening statement at Tuesday’s weekly press conference, Kirk Ferentz opened it up for questions from the media as he always does.
It would’ve been shocking if the first question was about anything other than who would start at quarterback between Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla against Illinois Saturday.
There was no shock with the first question being: If Spencer is healthy is he your starting quarterback or is it Alex?
“We haven’t had that conversation,” Ferentz said. “Alex has been running with the 1s. We’re just trying to get Spencer back in the groove a little bit. He’s there mentally, obviously, and just working through some missed time.
“And he’s missed some throws he probably would make. We’ll see where it goes. We’re real comfortable with both guys.”
Ferentz said Petras has been working with the second-team in practice this week, and it’s sounding more and more like Petras will be the backup against Illinois.
Petras didn’t play in last Saturday’s 27-22 victory over Minnesota due to an apparent shoulder injury that caused him to be removed from the Northwestern game in the first quarter the previous week.
Petras had started 17 consecutive games dating back to last season and had led Iowa to 12 straight wins before back-to-back losses to Purdue and Wisconsin.
Padilla led three scoring drives in the 17-12 victory over Northwestern and accounted for three touchdowns in the victory over Minnesota.
So, it appears that Iowa will have two quarterbacks on Saturday with experience, assuming Petras keeps making progress.
“I’d say it’s more accuracy right now due to missing that time,” Kirk Ferentz said when updating Petras’ situation on Tuesday. “So I think that’s probably the biggest thing, timing and accuracy. That’s probably the biggest thing he’s got to get back.
“A week ago he couldn’t throw the ball down the field. It’s like a lot of medical things. It’s day-by-day. You never know what the timing is going to be for the response, how guys heal, that type of deal. Looks like his strength is good. It’s a matter of getting back in the groove a little bit.”
Tyrone Tracy Jr.’s frustration: This season hardly has gone how junior receiver Tyrone Tracy Jr. had hoped from an individual standpoint.
Tracy was determined to have a big season after having only caught 14 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown during the Covid-19 shortened season in 2020.
But it just hasn’t worked out that way for a number of reasons, including some drops by Tracy and because of the emergence of freshmen receivers Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce.
Tracy only has 15 receptions for 106 yards and one touchdown heading into Saturday’s game against Illinois. His longest catch has only been for 14 yards.
Johnson is also listed ahead of Tracy on this week’s depth chart.
And while Tracy hasn’t been interviewed by the media for weeks, he has expressed his frustration on Twitter, recently comparing himself to a Swiss Army knife that isn’t being used properly.
Tracy deleted the tweet not long after posting it.
However, by then, it already had spread on Twitter.
Two of Tracy’s brothers also have recently expressed their frustration on Twitter about how their brother is being used on offense this season.
Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday that he was aware of Tyrone Tracy’s tweet.
“I think that’s a young guy who wants to help the football team,” Ferentz said. “I think that’s his way of expressing it. And it’s the common way people express things these days, I’ve been told. I’m not sure I understand that part of it, but, you know, I’m not that interested in understanding it either.”