DI Film Room: Breaking down Nate Stanley’s best game of 2018

Nate Stanley’s best performance of 2018 came against Indiana in Bloomington. The Daily Iowan traveled back to see what worked for the Hawkeye gunslinger.


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.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

Things were looking up for Iowa when it traveled to Bloomington, Indiana, on Oct. 13, 2018.

The Hawkeyes were fresh off a 48-31 road win over Minnesota and entered the game with a 4-1 record.

Then, Nate Stanley put the team on his back by delivering an offensive clinic. The junior signal caller completed 21-of-32 passes for 320 yards and 6 touchdowns. The performance was Stanley’s best of the season from a yardage, touchdown, and passer-rating standpoint.

The Daily Iowan broke down Stanley’s most impressive scores from the victory over the Hoosiers to find out what made Stanley so successful.

Stanley’s first touchdown pass was a nice, easy one to ease into the rest of the game.

Iowa used a standard Power-I formation in 21 personnel with Brandon Smith wide to the right, Nick Easley wide to the left, and T.J. Hockenson on the left side of the line.

Smith and Easley both ran fades, opening up the seam for Hockenson. From there, Stanley put the ball where only Hockenson could get it. The score was Hockenson’s first of two, and it gave Iowa an early 7-3 lead.

It was still the first quarter, but Stanley was not done.

Iowa had four receivers split out with trips to the right. Fant played in the slot between Hockenson and Ihmir Smith-Marsette on the outside.

Indiana brought a mike-linebacker blitz up the middle, but running back Mekhi Sargent ate that up, giving Stanley plenty of time in the pocket.

Stanley found Fant in one-on-one coverage, and the tight end simply got a step on his man. Stanley delivered the ball to Fant in stride, putting it where the defender couldn’t reach it, making for another 6 points and a 14-3 lead.

Remember when Eli Manning became a magician to avoid a sack and throw a bomb to David Tyree for the helmet catch in Super Bowl 42? Manning and Stanley must have gone to the same magic school.

Indiana defensive back Marcelino Ball came off the edge untouched, putting Stanley in immediate danger.

Stanley, who starts 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage in the shotgun, was forced to run back another 10 yards to avoid Ball.

Stanley somehow slipped away from the pressure and started rolling out to the opposite side.

With three Hoosiers in pursuit, Stanley found an open Easley improvising in the end zone and delivered a beauty on the run.

Other than Sargent out of the backfield, Easley was the only receiver on that side of the field, and he did exactly what he needed to do by finding some open space that allowed Stanley to get rid of the ball.

Iowa only needed 3 yards for a new set of downs here, but it got a lot more than that, thanks to Stanley and Hockenson’s dynamic connection. The Hawkeyes ran play-action, flooding the field with Easley, Hockenson, and fullback Brady Ross in the flat out of the backfield.

Stanley had a high and a low option with Hockenson 10 yards downfield and Ross just past the line of scrimmage.

Ross was covered at the line, but Hockenson was wide open between two defenders on his out route. A tremendous block from Easley made it a foot race that Hockenson won en route to a 54-yard touchdown.