Three cool things:
1. Maybe I didn’t pick up on it. I like to think I’m a keen observer, but I’m not ... Spider-Man.
I saw signs of nerves in Iowa QB Nate Stanley at times during interviews last year. He did a lot of stuff with his hands. He was really careful with his answers. I didn’t see that so much on the field. And then, after the Iowa State game, there was a locker-room celebration scene in the Kirk Ferentz show that had a quick look at Stanley.
The smile was something out of Cobra Kai. I think Stanley is one way with cameras and notebooks and another way on the field. I think on the field and in competition, he’s out to sweep the leg.
But yeah, you clearly saw nerves in this one. Ferentz referenced it many times during the season. It wore out. After this, there were fewer and fewer moments where Stanley was a deer in the headlights. (Everyone was a deer in the headlights at Wisconsin.)
Here’s my view of Stanley: He’s a really smart, conscientious kid. He’ll agree to be on your intramural basketball team and then he will go all Kelly Leak from “The Bad News Bears” and won’t let Tanner Boyle field his own groundballs. He’s set on winning.
That said, I’m not putting him in the NFL after this year. Unless Iowa wins 12 games. Then maybe.
2. At some point, I’ll stop referencing the North Dakota State game. I promise. I don’t want anyone coming over to the house and flushing my dog’s head down the toilet.
3. Wyoming QB Josh Allen wasn’t great in this one. I covered the combine, and I still don’t know if the NFL thinks he’ll be great. (I like chaos headlines for the NFL draft and not so much anywhere else.)
I mean a Buffalo radio producer quit after the Bills drafted Allen. If I worked in NFL scouting, I would be renting and not buying.
Quote: Best defensive player of the Ferentz era? I’m not ready to answer that completely, but Josey Jimmer-Jammering (thanks, Vint and/or Jacobi) Jewell is in that convo.
“He’s a pretty good player, maybe some of those guys (younger defensive players) were watching him, too, I’ve encouraged them to,” Ferentz said. “He’s got something about him, with the tempo he plays at.”
Note: Iowa was 1-0 last season when punters whiffed on punts.
Why No. 123? — Where do you classify the 2017 season? After the 2014 Outback Bowl, when LSU just kind of bear hugged the Hawkeyes into submission, James Morris reflected on eight wins with, basically, “Not the best, not the worst.”
And that’s where eight-win seasons at Iowa should go. It’s an OK. At worst, it’s meh, depending who’s among those eight wins.
Last year was an OK average season. Eight wins is OK at Iowa. If you can’t see that, you’re denying the history of the program. That’s all.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2017
IOWA CITY — When a punter misses the ball, well, you know it’s just not your day.
So much planning goes into the game of football. Everything down to the steps the players take is coached, vetted and filmed for yet more coaching and vetting.
Still, things like the punter missing the ball happen.
When freshman punter Tim Zaleski barely grazed a punt late in the second quarter, it opened the door for the Hawkeyes (1-0). Officially, this went down as a minus-5-yard punt. Unofficially, it sank the Cowboys (0-1).
Sophomore quarterback Nate Stanley threw three touchdown passes — two going to tight end Noah Fant — and Iowa’s defense muffled Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen in the Hawkeyes’ 24-3 victory before 68,075 fans Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.
“I really don’t (know what happened). I’m going to support Tim. As you know, they’re student-athletes,” Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. “It looked like the ball just got bobbled before he was going to punt it.”
Stanley had bobbles of his own, but at the end of the first half, coming off the failed punt, he needed only one play. He threw a perfect touch pass to Fant on a seam route for a 27-yard TD and a 14-3 halftime lead.
“It was just an overall good play call and good play concept,” Fant said. “Great stuff.”
Next fall, you might draft Allen for your fantasy football team. Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell was the No. 1 overall fantasy pick in this thing.
The senior was on a mission. The back story here is that Bohl made North Dakota State the pre-eminent power in FCS. North Dakota State came into Kinnick last season and pounded Iowa. The Bison left hoof marks on Iowa’s defense.
Jewell hated last year’s result. With the Cowboys sharing a lot of football DNA with NDSU, he was hyper aware and all over the field. Jewell finished with 14 tackles, 2.0 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. He also broke up a pass.
“He’s a pretty good player, maybe some of those guys (younger defensive players) were watching him, too, I’ve encouraged them to,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He’s got something about him, with the tempo he plays at.”
The Hawkeyes’ front seven was dominant, holding Wyoming to just 59 rushing yards (lowest output since 29 yards against North Dakota in 2015) and 233 yards of total offense. Allen completed 23 of 40 for 174 yards and two interceptions, his worst yardage total in seven games (149 yards vs. Nevada last season).
Iowa’s defense got plays out of almost everyone. It wasn’t quite that easy for Stanley.
In the first quarter, the sophomore was 0-for-4 with an interception. That’s a QB rating of minus-50. After the first quarter, Stanley completed 8 of 11 for 125 yards and three TDs, with a 2-yarder to Fant on a fourth down that finally put Iowa on the board with 5 minutes left in the second quarter. He finished with a passer rating of 176.
Stanley had an interception off a tipped pass and two fumbles, including one where he changed the play and then turned to hand off to no one. He might’ve tripped down the runway, but he stuck the landing.
“The whole team responded to the bumps, but I thought he did, too,” Ferentz said. “He didn’t get rattled. I’m sure he was internally, but he stayed strong and stayed steady. Some of those throws he made were impressive.”
Stanley calmly hit Fant for the 2-yarder on a fourth-and-goal from Wyoming’s 2. He put touch on the 27-yarder to Fant and put the ball where only wide receiver Nick Easley could get it on a 45-yard TD in the third quarter.
“I feel like I’m kind of a perfectionist,” Stanley said. “I’m a little upset with some stuff that went on with the ball security, but my teammates picked me up and had my back the whole game. The defense did a great job stopping them on short fields.”
Iowa’s running game was affected by injuries on the O-line. Senior running back Akrum Wadley did manage 116 yards on 24 carries (second most of his career).
Junior center James Daniels sat out with a minor knee injury. Ferentz expects him back for Iowa State next week.
You know how Kirk Ferentz is about center. Yes, he was worried about QB-center exchanges. You say he doesn’t take risks? Well, junior Keegan Render learned Friday night that he was starting center.
The last time Render snapped a ball in a game? The 2013 Shrine Bowl. How about in college? He hadn’t snapped a ball until this month.
“It’s been awhile,” Render said.