Iowa is sticking with Spencer Petras as its starting quarterback despite scoring just one touchdown through the first two games.
Coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday that Petras, a third-year starter who has faced increased scrutiny, will start Saturday against Nevada barring a setback in practice. The senior has completed 23 of 51 passes for 201 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns, earning a QBR of 3.4, which ranks second-lowest nationally. Iowa has been reluctant to go with Alex Padilla, who started three games last season while Petras was injured, and competed with Petras during the offseason.
“We obviously spent a lot of time looking at it, considering it, talking about it,” Ferentz said. “It’s really tough to give an honest evaluation right now. I’ve talked to Alex about the same thing. No matter who’s in there right now, we’ve got some challenges, and we’ve got to work through those and try to improve in those, and then we’ll have a fairer way to assess.”
Iowa’s offense has been hit hard by injuries, especially at the wide receiver position. The team has been down to two scholarship wide receivers, although Nico Ragaini and Keagan Johnson have returned to practice, and Ragaini could play against Nevada. Ferentz said it’s difficult to fully evaluate any individual player.
Petras has completed 56.1% of his passes over his career with 3,675 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
“Alex is capable, and he proved that last year,” Ferentz said of Padilla, who went 3-0 as Iowa’s starter in 2021. “I just go back to body of work. … We were 0-2 at the start of the  season and then we won 12 straight with [Petras] at quarterback. He built up some credit right there. He played really well, not in each and every game, but he did a pretty good job and led our football team.”
Ferentz wouldn’t reveal if the coaching staff unanimously supports the decision to keep Petras as the starter, but added, “I think we’re together as a program.”
“I’m not asking anybody to agree with me,” Ferentz said. “I’m guessing fans aren’t agreeing, and maybe the media, but everybody’s entitled to their opinions, I’m all for that. What our jobs are, and my job, ultimately, I’m the head coach, is to decide what’s best for our football team and our program. That’s my assessment at this point.
“We’re a 1-1 team and haven’t moved the ball offensively, so yeah, everything’s a jump ball.”
Ferentz also announced that cornerback Jermari Harris will miss the season and underwent a medical procedure. Harris, who has not played this fall, tied for second on the team with four interceptions in 2021 and had 34 tackles.