April 20, 2024

Alex Padilla understanding his role in Iowa’s offense

Iowa Hawkeyes Football

Iowa quarterback Alex Padilla participates in throwing drills with teammates during spring practice Saturday April 23, 2022 at Kinnick Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Hawkeyes’ junior quarterback is coming off a promising campaign in 2021, and a competitive spring.

Coach Kirk Ferentz has two signal-callers who are capable of leading his offense this fall, which will be vital when Iowa navigates through the Big Ten meat grinder. However, Ferentz mentioned that Spencer Petras is ahead of Alex Padilla following spring ball.

Padilla can read between the lines though, and knows he needs to keep his head on a swivel. At any given moment his number could be called again, and the Colorado native feels he’ll be mentally ready. Iowa’s offense got hit with the injury bug throughout the spring, but Padilla was still able to build chemistry with the receivers who were healthy enough to catch his passes.

Padilla understands that Iowa’s offense is evolving for a better cause. So he just wants to help the offense improve in any way possible. The Hawkeyes’ offensive line is somewhat young and inexperienced, but the unit impressed Padilla through 15 practices. He loves Logan Jones’ move from defense to offense and the fact that he’s having an immediate impact.

“The young guys up front that’s really kind of the biggest improvement that we’ve seen over the course of spring ball,” Padilla said. “It’s really important for the younger guys in that room to get a lot of reps during spring football.”

Offensive Coordinator Brian Ferentz replaced Ken O’Keefe and is coaching the quarterbacks now. The move has Padilla excited about the knowledge Ferentz brings to the table. Despite the expected learning curve, it’s all been a smooth transition in Padilla’s eyes, and he’s all about change.

Mistakes happen, but having a short term memory is key for a gunslinger. That’s why everything started to gel for Padilla over the final week of practice. From the pressure situations, to battling it out with Petras, it’s all going to be beneficial down the line for Padilla. Better rhythm means faster tempo, which in returns makes an offense more explosive.

“Tempo is good, execution could be better, but we’re always striving to have the perfect execution,” he said. “That’s something we talked about earlier in the offseason that we wanted to improve on.”

Anything to help Iowa improve from 13th in the Big Ten, and 121st in the FBS in total offense. Everyone is still learning on the job though, and there’ll be growing pains. The coaching staff is changing the way the players think, and how they react to adversity. Padilla knows that all starts with leaders taking charge in the huddle.

Great quarterbacks makes others around them better, so Padilla is trying to check all the boxes and keep everyone involved. From identifying mismatches in the defense, to calling audibles at the line of scrimmage, the Hawkeyes want their quarterbacks to be proactive with everything they do on offense.

“Changing our thought process, which allows us to make quicker decisions,” the signal-caller said. “Just kind of eliminating different stuff, which allows us to get the ball out of our hands faster and that’s the ultimate goal for us.”

The former three-star prospect showed his arm talent in back-to-back victories over Northwestern and Minnesota last season. Padilla combined for 378 yards through the air and two touchdown passes in those games. It’s only a matter of time when the six-foot-one, 197-pounder will get another opportunity behind center again.

As for now, Padilla is perfectly fine with where he fits in Iowa’s offense, just as long as the unit continues to grow.

“Over the course of the past five or six practices I feel like it’s starting to pay dividends.”