Nate Stanley, offense move forward from Penn State loss

Iowa’s offense had a rough outing against Penn State, and now it’s focusing on righting the ship and moving forward.

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Nate Stanley, offense move forward from Penn State loss

Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson trips trying to catch up to an overthrown pass during Iowa's game against Penn State at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. The Nittany Lions defeated the Hawkeyes 30-24.

Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson trips trying to catch up to an overthrown pass during Iowa's game against Penn State at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. The Nittany Lions defeated the Hawkeyes 30-24.

Nick Rohlman

Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson trips trying to catch up to an overthrown pass during Iowa's game against Penn State at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. The Nittany Lions defeated the Hawkeyes 30-24.

Nick Rohlman

Nick Rohlman

Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson trips trying to catch up to an overthrown pass during Iowa's game against Penn State at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. The Nittany Lions defeated the Hawkeyes 30-24.

Anna Kayser, Assistant Sports Editor

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Iowa only has one thing to do, and it needs to do it quickly: fix the problem on offense.

Whether this comes from targeting different receivers, using different running backs, or just flat-out going back to the basics by running the ball in every and all situations, the Hawkeyes’ season could potentially go downhill quickly if something doesn’t change.

Against Penn State, the flaws in the offense were blatantly clear, and it wasn’t an issue of facing a tough defense.

Stanley completed only 18 of 49 passing attempts. Iowa’s punter, Colten Rastetter, threw for more touchdowns in the game than Stanley, with one on a fake-field goal attempt.

Iowa has two of the best tight ends in the nation on its roster, and together, Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson were only targeted 14 times. Wide receiver Nick Easley was targeted 12 times alone.

Fant was absent during one of Iowa’s most critical points of the game — the final play.

“Obviously, I would like to be involved all the time, but that’s not really in my control,” Fant said. “I can control if I catch the ball, I can control what I do with the ball when I catch it, so just kind of taking that standpoint of it, taking advantage of the opportunities.”

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The running game has also been notably absent in the red zone recently. Iowa hasn’t had a rushing touchdown since late in the Minnesota game on Oct. 6.

Looking ahead, a point of emphasis should be the offense. Iowa has the defense to hold up anyone it plays — as shown in both the Wisconsin and Penn State games — but the offensive production has to be there.

“We’re just focusing on this next opportunity,” running back Toren Young said. “Obviously, as an offense, you want to get in the end zone, so we’re going to work on that in practice and try to execute and clean some things up.”

An area of concern for Hawkeye fans this week has been the performance of Stanley and a potential injury to his thumb that he sustained in the second half.

Stanley is expected to start on Saturday, and has practiced and thrown the ball well, head coach Kirk Ferentz said.

“I mean, I haven’t been around a good quarterback or a good player at any position who doesn’t have a rough outing,” Ferentz said. “It’s just the nature of sports, especially when you’re playing against a good team, and Penn State is very athletic, very aggressive. They had a great effort, made it tough on us, and it wasn’t like we played a perfect game as a unit offensively, so a lot of that goes into it.”

The overall consensus in the program is that the Penn State loss is in the past, and it’s time to head for West Lafayette.

For Stanley, what he learned from the loss and his performance will help him lead the offense.

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

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