Smith-Marsette posts career day against home-state Rutgers

Ihmir Smith-Marsette kicked off the scoring against Rutgers on Saturday with a 58-yard touchdown, and he didn’t slow down.


Roman Slabach

Iowa WR Ihmer Smith-Marsette catches a football that led to a touchdown during a football game between Iowa and Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 7, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 30-0. (Roman Slabach/ The Daily Iowan)

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette is originally from Newark, New Jersey, but on Saturday, he made his home in Kinnick Stadium’s south end zone.

Facing his home-state team, Smith Marsette caught four passes for a career-high 113 yards and 2 touchdowns in Iowa’s 30-0 win over Rutgers, including a 58-yard bomb on Iowa’s first drive of the game. It was the first 100-yard game of his career.

Now, Smith-Marsette is free to brag to his friends at home as he put up the best stat line of his career against the Scarlet Knights.

“It felt real good; I just wanted to go out there and do what I can do, show my skills, and be able to put the team up,” Smith-Marsette said. “That’s something that I did, and we just started going forward after that.”

He’s not wrong about moving forward. Quarterback Nate Stanley fired a 7-yard pass to Tyrone Tracy for six before Smith-Marsette hit paydirt once again.

Smith-Marsette’s second score of the day came on a 27-yard pass from Stanley after the wideout found himself in a wide-open green space in the middle of the field for his third touchdown in two games this season.

The pass was thrown a little behind Smith-Marsette, but he showed he has hands to complement his speed by making the catch and strutting into the end zone.

Coming against the Scarlet Knights, things couldn’t have gone much better for No. 6.

“Him playing Rutgers being from New Jersey, those two touchdowns really meant a lot for him,” wide receiver Brandon Smith said. “I’m happy that he had such a great game today. Playing a hometown team, that’s something he’ll never forget.

“It’s kind of like a fairytale. Everything was set up perfect… It’s just something that when he goes home, he can talk about it. He had a great game, and he got a lot of bragging rights.”

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley has thrown 6 touchdowns this season. Half of them have gone to Smith-Marsette.

He has come a long way in his time in Iowa City, maturing, learning to focus on small details, and building his strength.

The results are clear. Smith-Marsette is a trusted part of the offense and a key playmaker Iowa relies on when it needs a play.

The Hawkeyes are now only two games into their 12-game regular-season schedule, but Smith-Marsette’s work is continuing to pay off.

“He was God-gifted with speed, but other people don’t know his IQ is very, very high,” wide receiver Tyrone Tracy said. “Ihmir Smith-Marsette, his IQ is so high that you say things you wouldn’t think for him to understand, like a running back or something and he knows what the running back does in the formation because he loves the game so much. He’s in his playbook all the time, he watches film day in and day out. He does things that people don’t really see.”

His coach has noticed the difference.

From being a 159-pound freshman to the 183-pound playmaker Rutgers got torched by on Saturday, Smith-Marsette has changed, and that’s good for Iowa.

“Maturity tends to make people a little more detailed — that’s my experience,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He’s really turned the corner. He’s enjoying being a guy out there that gives us good energy, a good lead in the group, and setting a great example.

“He got banged up a little bit and came back and did a great job this week. It’s a real credit to him, where he couldn’t have done that two years ago.”