Iowa football: Nate Stanley needs to protect the ball better in 2019

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 27: Nathan Stanley
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 27: Nathan Stanley /

For the Iowa football team to be successful in 2019, quarterback Nate Stanley must protect the ball better than he did during the 2018 season.

Through two seasons, Iowa football player Nate Stanley has thrown just 15 interceptions total, which is surprisingly low for an Iowa quarterback (save for CJ Beathard).

Jake Rudock threw 13 interceptions in 2013. The revered quarterback of the Orange Bowl-winning Iowa football team, Ricky Stanzi, threw 15 interceptions during 2009, and Big Ten Player of the Year Drew Tate threw 13 interceptions in 2006 and 14 in 2004 when he led the Hawks to a Capital One Bowl victory.

So on the surface, that’s pretty solid, but when looking at advanced analytics, Stanley needs to be better at protecting the ball.

According to Pro Football Focus, Stanley threw 14 turnover-worthy passes in 2018, but 4 of those were dropped.

On the surface, 4th best in the Big Ten looks good but as we have talked about with other metrics, sometimes the number isn’t always as it appears. Opportunities (or in this case pass attempts are not always the same), however when I divide the number of turnover-worthy plays by pass attempts, Stanley still ranks 4th.

Not ideal, but alright. Now, factor in that Dwayne Haskins, David Blough, and Trace McSorley were all in the conference last year and we are likely looking at Stanley as the 7th best quarterback in terms of turnover-worthy plays. 7th out of 14 is not great, and it’s worse when you consider Maryland hardly throws the ball and Illinois and Rutgers aren’t even worth a comparison, now we’re looking at 7th out of 11.

We know Stanley has the arm talent, and we’ve been saying it here at Dear Old Gold for a while that he just needs to work on the mental aspect of the game and reduce the one boneheaded play a game he makes such throwing an interception directly to an Indiana linebacker.

For the Iowa football team to be successful next year, they will need Stanley to further improve his game. The interception totals have been low, but the Iowa football team can’t afford to see those turnover-worthy plays equal the total number of interceptions, especially given the Hawk’s penchant for playing tight, closely contested games. Four extra interceptions could be costly.

I don’t want Stanley to play cautious football either though. He’s been known to not take many chances which could actually make these numbers look even worse, but there’s a smart way of taking chances and with a guy like Brandon Smith on your side, that’s usually a smart bet.

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If Stanley begins taking a bit more smart chances and is still able to reduce his turnover-worthy plays by 4 or 5, I think we could see this passing attack elevated to new heights not seen since in nearly a decade.