IOWA CITY, Ia. — The senior quarterback has endured unfair criticism and most of the blame for Iowa’s woes on offense.
Although Nate Stanley had no touchdown passes against Purdue last Saturday, he showed grit and leadership in the 26-20 win. The game wasn’t pretty by no means, due to wet conditions, but the Hawkeyes’ offense persevered. Three first half field goals by Keith Duncan kept a cushion on the Boilermakers.
The offense had opportunities in the red zone during the first half, but couldn’t make the most out of them. Stanley knew he had to rally the unit and the Hawkeyes came out a different team in the second half.
“I think the way our offense responded, didn’t sore a touchdown in the first half, but we made adjustments coming out at halftime,” Stanley said. “Our offensive line did a great job at responding to those adjustments and everybody went out there and made plays for us.”
He admitted the halftime discussion was the same. The team talked about what they can fix and how they needed to capitalize on their opportunities.
The sellout Homecoming crowd and atmosphere at Kinnick Stadium was a bit somber, but the intensity ignited when the Hawkeyes were penalized seven times, which didn’t help the offense. Stanley appreciates the Hawkeye faithful which would be the last Homecoming game of his collegiate career.
“The fans are what makes it special for us when we play a game,” he said. “Those fans come, they cheer us on and they definitely give us an advantage.”
Stanley threw an interception, but takes responsibility for the turnover and didn’t let it break his confidence. He want to compliment the Hawkeyes’ defense on every drive and not have to settle for field goals. The six-foot-four, 243-pounder had to improvise with his legs more just to do whatever it takes to move the chains.
The Wisconsin native believes it makes the defense have to account for another dimension on the offense. Unfortunately the win came at a cost and Brandon Smith suffered an injury that Coach Kirk Ferentz later labeled as a bone bruise.
Stanley knows how vital the veteran receiver is to the Iowa’s offense. Not to mention he had nine catches for 106 yards before leaving in the second half. Smith has provided experience, leadership and production for the Hawkeyes and Stanley has chemistry with him on the field.
“He does a great job at studying tape, just his knowledge of the game has continued to grow,” Stanley said. “The speed that he processes the game at I think that’s the biggest aspect that he has improved upon.”
Iowa is still in contention for the Big Ten West, with the division being as wide open as ever entering week nine. Stanley trusts his receivers and has confidence in his offensive line. The injury bug has effected the production of the offense, but Iowa still continues to carve out wins blue collar style.
As for Stanley, he’s aware of the grumblings from the fans after the offense’s performance in the last three games. Still, he knows there’s veterans too many veterans to just let the sink ship, including himself.
“You want to do everything you can to show that you’re invested 100 percent for your teammates and show there’s no quitting in me,” Stanley said. “Show a team I’m not going to back down, you can hit me a hundred times, I’m going to continue to fight and do everything I can to help my teammates.”
The Hawkeyes have some momentum back on offense as the team travels on the road for the next two games. Stanley will need to be at his best going up against Northwestern and Wisconsin’s defenses.