Iowa football: How can Hawks improve after shootout victory over Gophers?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 06: The Iowa Hawkeyes hoist the Floyd of Rosedale trophy after defeating the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the game on October 6, 2018 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Iowa defeated Minnesota 48-31. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 06: The Iowa Hawkeyes hoist the Floyd of Rosedale trophy after defeating the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the game on October 6, 2018 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Iowa defeated Minnesota 48-31. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – OCTOBER 06: Nate Stanley #4 of the Iowa Hawkeyes passes the ball under pressure from Kamal Martin #21 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the fourth quarter of the game on October 6, 2018 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Iowa defeated Minnesota 48-31. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – OCTOBER 06: Nate Stanley #4 of the Iowa Hawkeyes passes the ball under pressure from Kamal Martin #21 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the fourth quarter of the game on October 6, 2018 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Iowa defeated Minnesota 48-31. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Nate Stanley

I feel bad because it seems like nearly every week Nate Stanley makes this list regardless of how good he does, but as I say every week, with great skill comes great expectations. For example, despite a very good game against Wisconsin, Stanley made our list of opportunities for improvement because he failed to lead the Iowa football team when it matter the most.

Despite a solid stat line against the Gophers (23-39, 314 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception), Stanley didn’t seem to be on his A game throughout the day. To be honest though, that’s been the story of Stanley’s season to date. A good throw is followed by a very bad throw, a good play is followed by a huge mistake. Saturday was no different.

One play in particular landed Stanley on this list though. Late in the second quarter, the Hawks picked off Zach Annexstad deep in Iowa football territory. With a little over a minute left, the Hawkeyes decided to see what they could put together before half already up 28-10. On the very first play of the drive, Stanley scrambled out of the pocket and literally threw the ball directly to the Gophers.

Truly, I was flabbergasted by the play. There were no Iowa football players in the vicinity of the throw. Others agreed.

Just a few game minutes later, Nate Stanley would also cough up the ball after Alaric Jackson let Carter Coughlin right by him. I won’t necessarily hold that against him because he got hit hard and unexpectedly, but that turnover also turned into a Minnesota touchdown.

While these mistakes won’t cost the Iowa football team the game against teams like Minnesota, it will hurt them in a game against Penn State. While Stanley plays great for 75% of the time in games, it’s the other 25% that hurts to watch. It’s almost Ryan Fitzpatrick-esque at this point.

With that said, I feel fortunate the Hawks have a Nate Stanley. He has the skill set to lead the Iowa football team a long ways if he can improve on his decision-making.