Hawkeyes riding Stanley’s hot hand

Nate Stanley throws the second-most touchdowns in a single game (6) in Hawkeye history against Indiana, and, thanks to his play, Iowa’s offense cruises.


Nick Rohlman

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley throws on the run during Iowa's game against Indiana at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington on Saturday, October 13, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Hoosiers 42-16.

Adam Hensley, Hensley

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Iowa’s offense has now put up 90 points in its last two games. At the same time, Nate Stanley has thrown for 634 yards and 10 touchdowns.

That’s no coincidence.

The Stanley effect was at full speed on Oct. 13, and for the second-straight week, the Hawkeye signal caller sparked the offense, igniting the Black and Gold for 42 points and throwing 6 touchdown passes, which ties for second in Hawkeye history for a single game (with the iconic Chuck Long, one behind Chuck Hartlieb).

“I think it comes back down to what’s working,” Stanley said. “Coach Brian [Ferentz] has a good feel for the situation in the game and how it’s going. Whatever play is called, we’re just going to execute it to the best of our ability.”

A quarterback throwing for 6 touchdowns isn’t a familiar sight for Hawkeye fans. For the Hoosier fans, that rarity turned out to be their biggest nightmare.

Indiana’s defense seemingly had no answers for the 6-4, 242-pound quarterback.

“We bounced off him like a pinball,” Hoosier head coach Tom Allen said. “I have a lot of respect for him. But unfortunately, [on Oct. 13] he was the better player than our guys trying to get him on the ground.”

One of Stanley’s best plays came on his third touchdown pass of the afternoon. The play broke down, and one of the Hoosier defenders charged into the backfield. Stanley retreated, shrugged off the would-be tackler, rolled to his right, and fired a bullet to receiver Nick Easley in the corner of the end zone, quieting a Homecoming-charged Indiana crowd.

It was just that type of day for Stanley, who moved past C.J. Beathard to tie for sixth on Iowa’s all-time touchdown list.

Early in the season, it seemed as though the offense, specifically the passing game, was nowhere to be found.

Stanley had just 1 touchdown and 1 interception through two games, and the Hawkeyes averaged 23 points per game during that stretch.

Since then, Stanley and Company have been on fire. He’s thrown for 14 touchdowns, and Iowa has averaged 36.3 points per game. It’s been a complete 180; Stanley’s play at the beginning is unrecognizable given the performances he has produced during the past four games.

“All good hitters get into slumps,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “… He’s a guy who’s a perfectionist. I think he’s starting to relax a little bit and just enjoy the game a little bit more.”

One reason the passing game opened up was due to Stanley’s ability to spread the ball around. On his 21 completions, he found nine different receivers.

“It’s definitely fun. You just never know when your play might come,” receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette said. “You just always got to be on your toes. Every play it might come your way. You might be able to make an 80-yard touchdown, 90-yard touchdown, you just never know. When [the passing game] is clicking like that, it just gives Brian Ferentz more confidence.”

But this isn’t the typical Kirk Ferentz offense Hawkeye fans — or players, for that matter — have grown accustomed to.

“Is it necessarily the thing I could have seen or saw coming into the season? Probably not,” center Keegan Render said. “But at the same time, it’s what works and what’s getting the job done.”

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