Nate Stanley has been through the wars enough to know what it takes to get it done. That’s what veteran quarterbacks do, and that’s what Stanley has done at Iowa.
There’s been a hiccup or two along the way this season, but Iowa’s offense seems to be hitting its stride these past few weeks, and Stanley has been a big reason why.
Iowa has scored 114 points in its past three games, averaging 38 points a game. Stanley has been very good himself, passing for 879 yards and eight touchdowns during those three games.
He’s been that good.
He’s spread the ball around well, too. Four different guys have caught touchdown passes, with tight end Noah Fant leading the way with five scoring catches.
But now there are some concerns. Fant left Saturday’s game with what looked like a concussion and he may not be ready to go this Saturday at Indiana. Starting running back Ivory Kelly-Martin also left the game. We probably won’t know anything about their availability until Friday.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz wouldn’t comment Tuesday on their status, but he did say something about their status against the Hoosiers would be determined Friday.
“The medical people make those decisions,” Ferentz said. “And then if a guy clears with the medical staff, then we have to see if they look good on the field.”
It sure looks like a concussion for Fant, at least based on the video.
Noah Fant is questionable for Maryland and this is why. Watch the end of the video, his head snaps on the turf. Looked kinda nasty. Also the TV panned on him as he walked off and he looked woozy. pic.twitter.com/JmZc2uOL8n
— Jordan Hansen (@jordyhansen) October 9, 2018
Missing Fant would be huge, because he’s such a weapon. He changes game plans on offense.
“When I’m on the field when I’ve got Noah to my side, I notice how focused the (defensive backs) or linebackers are focused on Noah,” sophomore receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette said. “When that happens, it puts a little smile on my face.”
Stanley loves finding Fant when it matters. He is tied for the FBS lead among tight ends with those five TDs.
“A lot of times when he is on the field,” Stanley said, “that’s the person that can make the biggest play and who has the biggest mismatch.”
The Hawkeyes might need to lean on talented tight ends T.J. Hockenson this week if Fant can’t go. He’s dangerous, too. His 18 catches are one behind Fant for the team lead.
“They have the ability to make just as big a play as the receivers do,” Stanley said.
The Hawkeyes’ two tight end sets have worked all year, and the production is obvious. They can pass when they’re in run sets, and run out of passing sets with both guys on the field. It’s pick-your-poison time for the opposing defenses.
“That’s the great thing about having Noah and I out there,” Hockenson said. “We can be on opposite sides of the ball and they set the front to his side, and maybe they should’ve set it to mine. Or they set it to my side, and they should’ve set it to his.”
We’ll have to see how it looks at less than full strength this week. But Stanley can at least be counted on to deliver. To whom? That’s still the unanswered question.