Iowa offense finds success spreading the ball

The Hawkeyes have talented players across the board on offense, allowing the team to spread the ball around.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley makes a pass during a football game between Iowa and Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, September 14, 2019. The Hawkeyes retained the Cy-Hawk Trophy for the fifth consecutive year, downing the Cyclones, 18-17. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Robert Read, Assistant Sports Editor


Iowa football comes off of its bye week boasting a 3-0 record and the No. 14 ranking in the nation. The Hawkeyes have outscored their opponents 86-31 through three games with quarterback Nate Stanley looking in command of the offense to begin his senior season.

The poise and decisiveness Stanley has shown as the Iowa signal caller this season can be attributed to a chemistry with his receivers.

“Whoever is in the game, we trust fully,” Stanley said. “We know that if you’re out there, you can make plays. It just goes off what the defense gives us, not trying to force the ball into triple coverage. Really just trying to take advantage of those matchups, go through my progressions, and get it to those guys quick.”

Stanley’s arsenal of weapons is as deep as it has been in his three seasons as Iowa’s starting quarterback.

Ihmir-Smith Marsette, Nico Ragaini, and Brandon Smith have all seen their fair share of targets out wide for Iowa. Smith-Marsette leads Iowa in receptions (11), receiving yards (194), and receiving touchdowns (3) through three games, but Ragaini and Mekhi Sargent each have caught nine passes on the season.

Oliver Martin and Tyrone Tracy Jr. have also made an impact in the Iowa passing attack. Both receivers have recorded a touchdown reception on the season, while Tracy has proven to be a deep threat for Stanley, averaging 15.8 yards per reception.

All of these pass catchers are threats to the opposing defense, and each has Stanley’s trust to make a play.

RELATED: Bye week, Middle Tennessee come at good time for Hawkeye football

“It’s not like one person on our team is making every single catch,” Ragaini said. “Everyone is getting some love, which is awesome for all of us. [The defense] can’t double anyone really. They can’t really guard one single person, because we’re all making the big catches out there.”

The Iowa rushing attack has taken a similar approach to the passing game.

Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz recognizes the talent in his backfield, and he wants to utilize every ounce of it.

“We’ve played four guys,” Ferentz said. “We’re pretty comfortable with all those guys doing various things. They all have strengths. They all have certain things they do particularly well, but the reality is that we trust all four of them.”

Sargent has been the workhorse of the group, leading the team with 208 rushing yards. Sargent also ranks second on the team with 102 receiving yards.

In terms of rushing yards, Toren Young (120) and Tyler Goodson (105) rank second and third on the team in what has been a very balanced rushing attack for the Hawkeyes.

Ivory Kelly-Martin has received limited touches this season but has also made plays when his name has been called.

“We have a very unselfish room right there,” Ferentz said. “We have four guys that are much more interested in the team winning and the team doing well than any kind of personal accomplishment.”

The unselfishness the Iowa skill positions have shown has made the offense dangerous. A variety of players both out wide and in the backfield are capable of burning opponents, even if the volume of touches isn’t always present.

“We’re trying to get the ball into [the receivers’] hands,” Ferentz said. “And we’re trying to get the ball into the back’s hands, and when you’re playing 65 to 80 snaps a game, there’s only so many opportunities to go around.”

Facebook Comments