Des Moines – We’re six weeks into the 2017 college football season and most Hawkeye fans don’t know what to think about their team. Are they a good team that is capable of winning 7 or 8 games? Are they a bad team that is going to miss out on a bowl game?
At this point in the season it is difficult to find an answer for those questions, but typically it is found in between the two extremes. The only rational conclusion Hawkeye fans can draw right now is that the Iowa defense is capable of playing at a high level, and the offense is a complete wild card.
Iowa’s defense has been led by, surprise surprise, Josey Jewell. The Hawkeye’s MLB has lived up to his expectations this year. He deserves his own Old Spice or Dos Equis commercial. He leaves absolutely everything out on the field in every single game he plays. There is never an ounce of doubt about what kind of effort “The Outlaw” is going to give. The young man is incredible. His play elevates the play of the guys around him, and when the Hawkeyes defense is firing on all cylinders they look like a damn good football team.
The offense on the other hand is a complete unknown. If you look at Nate Stanley’s statistics 5 games into his first year as a starter you’ll probably come away impressed. He has thrown 12 TD passes to just 1 interception. However, he has left at least 5 more TD’s off the scoreboard because he has failed miserably to connect with his TE’s and WR’s on deep routes. This is a major problem schematically because Iowa’s running game always forces defenses to stack the box. When they don’t respect your ability to connect over the top they end up stacking the box even more. The opponent’s safeties end up crowding the line of scrimmage and all of a sudden the running game is nonexistent as well. This is the Hawkeye offense’s biggest problem.
Nate Stanley needs to start connecting on deep passes. If he can’t do that then the rest of this football season will not go well for the Hawks. It isn’t fair to put it on the WR’s either. They are getting open down the field. They are getting a couple steps behind the defense. Stanley just isn’t hitting them. It isn’t fair to put it on Brian Ferentz either. If you watch the game closely you’ll notice he is mixing it up quite well. He is calling plenty of plays where they are taking shots down the field. Again, Stanley just isn’t connecting.
Akrum Wadley has been incredible. Every defense that Iowa plays keys on Akrum Wadley and he has still shown an ability to make big plays. He’s doing what he can, but he needs help from his QB. He needs Stanley to open up the running game by making defenses respect the passing game.
Mark my words… If Stanley can step up and hone in his accuracy on deep balls it will do wonders for this offense. It will launch this team into a decent bowl game. He has the talent around him to do that. The defense is good enough to keep this Hawkeye team in every game they have left on their schedule. The pressure is on Stanley to connect when the opportunities are there. It has nothing to do with arm strength. The young man has a cannon, but a cannon doesn’t do much good if it is constantly sailing beyond it’s target.