Iowa’s offense attempts to step up in close

Nate Stanley will try to bounce back, and the Hawkeye defense prepares for freshman phenom Rondale Moore.


Lily Smith

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley throws a pass during the Iowa/Maryland homecoming football game at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Terrapins, 23-0.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley stood in the Hanson Performance Center answering questions from reporters with his hands in his pockets.

Stanley said he hit his hand on a helmet in Iowa’s 30-24 loss at Penn State but also noted it’s something a lot of quarterbacks have to battle through.

In the loss to the Nittany Lions, Stanley posted what was probably his worst performance of the season, completing 18-of-49 passes for 205 yards and 2 interceptions. He only has 1 touchdown in the past two games after throwing 10 in a two-game span against Minnesota and Indiana.

Despite the thumb injury, Stanley said he hopes to play against Purdue on Saturday, and head coach Kirk Ferentz is confident he will be able to. He will be prepared, he said, after lessons learned from the game against the Nittany Lions.

“No matter the situation, no matter the environment, just fall back on your fundamentals,” Stanley said. “Do everything you can to play calm. Be collected the whole game and don’t let the situation dictate how your emotions should be.”

Through the first six games of the season, Stanley had been on fire. He threw for 1,473 yards in that span along with 15 touchdowns, and he was on pace to break Iowa’s single-season passing-touchdown record.

Tight end Noah Fant said his quarterback has looked like his normal self in practice, which could perhaps be a sign of Stanley returning to the player fans saw in the first six games.

“He’s a competitor,” Fant said. “He wants to get right back at it, and keep competing, and getting better. So that’s great to see from a leader on our team and our starting quarterback.

“I know Nate Stanley is going to compete his butt off, and he’s going to do the best he can. If he makes a bad throw or anything like that, obviously, he’s not doing it on purpose. Everybody is going to make mistakes, so I’m 100 percent back behind him.”

Red-zone offense becomes focus

Over the past two weeks, the Hawkeye offense has been inside the 20-yard line eight times. It has scored only 2 touchdowns.

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Iowa has scored on 75 percent of those chances, but four of the six scores have been from field goals, not touchdowns.

Fant has not seen a ton of action in these situations, which is odd considering he has racked up 6 touchdowns on the year and feasts on defensive back and linebackers close to the goal line.

No matter who plays, though, Iowa needs to find a way to punch the ball in to top the Boilermakers.

“If we make it all that way down to the red zone, why not score a touchdown rather than just a field goal?” Fant said. “I felt like we were doing a good job of that previously, but obviously, in the last couple of weeks, it’s something we need to improve on.”

Moore watch

Iowa’s defense will have its hands full with versatile players once again this week.

Just seven days after facing Trace McSorley, the Hawkeyes have to travel to West Lafayette, Indiana, to take on Rondale Moore.

Despite being a freshman, Moore has been electrifying this year, leading the conference with 68 receptions, while ranking second with 802 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Moore has also been a force on the ground and in the return game.

Linebacker Djimon Colbert said Devonte Young and Calvin Lockett have been playing Moore on the scout team — not an easy task.

“We just know they can get the ball to him in a lot of different ways,” Colbert said. “We just got to be ready to make in-game adjustments and just know we got to fly to the ball all game for a whole 60 minutes.”