Stanley, Smith-Marsette set for return to Ames

Nate Stanley and Ihmir Smith-Marsette established themselves as playmakers against Iowa State two years ago, and they haven’t looked back.


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley throws under pressure during the Iowa/Iowa State game for the Cy-Hawk trophy in Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones, 44-41, in overtime. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

Two years ago, Nate Stanley took the field at Jack Trice Stadium in his white No. 4 jersey for the second college start of his career. It was his first Cy-Hawk game as the go-to guy under center. Simply put, it went well.

Stanley completed 27 of his 41 pass attempts for 333 yards and 5 touchdowns in a 44-41 over Iowa State.

Since then, Stanley has become one of the best statistical quarterbacks in Hawkeye history, leading Iowa to two consecutive bowl victories — the Hawkeyes’ first back-to-back postseason wins since the Orange Bowl and Insight Bowl in 2010.

Iowa State is a different team than it was two years ago, though. Brock Purdy wasn’t on the team, and Ray Lima was in his first season with the Cyclones.

But Stanley’s looking to close his Cy-Hawk career as a starter out with three wins in as many tries.

“I feel confident in my abilities, I feel confident in the abilities of my teammates that we have the potential to go and play that well and do that again, but it is a different team than two years ago and even a year ago,” Stanley said. “We know that there’s going to be differences from those years. No matter what happens, we’re going to have to go out and compete.”

The return to Ames will also be big for Hawkeye wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

Smith-Marsette scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime on a 5-yard route to the right side of the field.

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Stanley and Smith-Marsette, although the environment is different from their original home stadium.

“What I remember is a loud atmosphere, a close game, and everybody on the team not willing to back down,” Smith-Marsette said. “Going that extra mile to push forward and push through the adversity. Being able to come out on top and carrying that Cy-Hawk Trophy to the locker room at the end of the game.”

Defending the RPO

Run-pass options are a fashionable trend in football, and Iowa State takes full advantage of them. The Cyclones often run their run-pass options in the shotgun with a single back in the backfield with Purdy.

Iowa State doesn’t boast star running back David Montgomery or wide receiver Hakeem Butler, but Iowa doesn’t see many run-pass options in the Big Ten, which gives the Cyclones an advantage that doesn’t show up on the depth chart.

“It’s certainly a Big 12 offense — you don’t see teams do that as much in the Big Ten,” Iowa linebacker Djimon Colbert said. “It’s huge having your eyes in the right spot because as soon as you put them in the wrong spot, they’re going to try to get something where you’re supposed to be where you’re not.”

Injury report 

Iowa found trouble in the secondary last week. First, free safety Kaevon Merriweather got hurt the day before his team played Rutgers, forcing backup Jack Koerner into action.

Koerner played well and is listed as the starter heading into Saturday.

During the Hawkeyes’ win over the Scarlet Knights, Geno Stone went down in pain. Luckily for Iowa, Stone appeared in postgame interviews and said he’s fine.

“Injury-wise, Merriweather won’t play again, and Geno Stone’s fine,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He came out of the game at the end, but he’s fine. He’ll be ready to roll.”

On the offensive line, Cole Banwart has returned to practice and will be inserted into the rotation on Saturday, Ferentz said.