Iowa Preview Q&A with RossWB of Go Iowa Awesome
Padilla or Petras? Will turnovers come into play? How does Iowa block Michigan's terror ends? Answering these and more with Hawkeyes expert RossWB.
SITE STUFF: Yes, yes, there’s basketball to discuss — next week, when there’s a little room to breathe from football.
I’m pleased to welcome RossWB of Go Iowa Awesome, who was kind enough to answer my questions leading up to Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game. There’s plenty of good stuff to check out on GIA this week, including their breakdown of quarterbacks Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla. Speaking of which…
ACE: What are the main differences between Alex Padilla and Spencer Petras? Assuming something close to full health for Petras, who would you rather have take the field Saturday? [ED: I asked this before Petras was named the starter for Saturday, though it wouldn’t surprise to see Padilla at some point.]
ROSS: Physically, Petras is bigger (around 6'5") and has the stronger arm; he's also (much) less mobile (though he is money on QB sneaks). Padilla is shorter (around 6'1") and has a slightly weaker arm, but he's a bit more mobile and more elusive in the pocket.
On the field, Petras is slightly (very slightly) more accurate as a passer, but more prone to look for check-downs and attempt short passes. Padilla has been less accurate as a passer, but he does tend to try and stretch the field a bit more than Petras does and is a bit more likely to hit a big play down the field. He's also better in the pocket than Petras, who has tended to react badly to being pressured.
As for who I'd prefer... if Iowa's offensive line was good at pass protection this year, I'd probably lean toward the slightly safer option of Petras. If he can avoid being pressured, he's less likely to make potentially costly mistakes and can string together just enough decent passes to maintain drives. But that is a mighty big "if" and frankly this year Iowa does not have good pass protection. Asking a pair of inexperienced tackles to try and slow down guys like Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo feels like it's going to lead to a very bad time, man.
So given all that, I'd lean toward starting Padilla in the hopes that he might be a bit better at moving around in the pocket, avoiding the inevitable pressure that he's going to see, and (maybe) hitting a big play or two. My concern with Petras is that he retreats against the pressure that Michigan is able to bring, gets sacked, and puts Iowa in a lot of second-and-long and third-and-even-longer situations, which will be almost certain death for Iowa's offense.
It's not like either of these options feels like a really good one, but Padilla is more of a C+ choice compared to Petras as more of a C- choice.
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ACE: If/when Iowa is forced to throw the ball, how do you expect them to deal with Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo?
ROSS: If Iowa doesn't use tight ends Luke Lachey and Sam LaPorta and/or fullback Monte Pottebaum to double team (or at least chip) those guys, they're absolutely suicidal. Guards Kyler Schott and Cody Ince/Connor Colby are also going to need to lend some helping hands to the tackles to deal with the pressure Michigan is sure to bring on Saturday.
Iowa has used three tackles a lot this season -- Jack Plumb, Mason Richman, and Nick DeJong -- with, ah, mixed results, to put it kindly. (Mostly mediocre-to-bad results, if we're being a little more honest.) I expect Plumb and Richman to get the starts on Saturday; how long they last in those roles will depend on how they're able to hold up. To put it mildly, I am not at all looking forward to seeing them try defend Hutchinson or Ojabo one-on-one. Iowa's tackles versus Michigan's pass rushers is definitely the match-up on Saturday that gives me the most cold sweats.