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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 18, 2018

Hawkeye football has competition at quarterback

Jul 28, 2017

By Marc Morehouse, The Gazette


CHICAGO — The suggestion was made to see the response. The topic was Iowa’s offense and the quest for a quarterback. Kirk Ferentz was all ears.

Hey, why not the single wing? This was Pop Warner’s offense. It was run in the early 1900s. It might’ve been what Warner ran for Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm from 1895 to 1899. You know that Iowa Agricultural is Iowa State. You might not know that the single wing has a “spin back,” a quarterback/running back hybrid that takes traditional QB play out of the picture.

Ferentz was all ears. Kidding, he totally saw it as a conversation opener. Iowa won’t be running the single wing this fall.

The Hawkeyes’ strengths on offense certainly lie in the offensive line and running back. Ferentz declined to name a starting QB here at Big Ten media days, so there’s that. There also is the wide receiver position, which has seemed to be free floating in space for the last two years.

Iowa won’t turn to the single wing. Probably.

“The players won’t know,” Ferentz said with a laugh. “They won’t know what it is. They won’t be able to call us on it. Well, (offensive tackle) Boone Myers played in that offense up in Webster City. He might straighten us out.”

Iowa isn’t running the single wing. Offensive tackle Boone Myers won’t play quarterback. And this is all fun and games right now. If the Hawkeyes are held to single digits in the first half against Wyoming on Sept. 2, this is going to be a lot less funny for most of you.

This is a long preamble for the question do you buy that Iowa has a quarterback competition?

Ferentz, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz and quarterbacks coach Ken O’Keefe have said since spring that sophomore Nathan Stanley and junior Tyler Wiegers are battling. Ferentz has said all along he expects a choice to become clear during camp, which begins Sunday, and nothing is imminent.

Yes, the depth chart in the media guide listed Stanley as the No. 1.

“Don’t read into that, please,” Ferentz said.

Ferentz leaned on his time at Iowa during the 1980s, when he was Hayden Fry’s offensive line coach. Going into 1987 training camp, the QB depth chart was Dan McGwire, Tom Poholsky and Chuck Hartlieb, who eventually claimed the job and set season records in 1988.

“We all thought it was going to be McGwire or Poholsky,” Ferentz said. “I never want to dismiss anyone on the depth chart. You never know what’s going to happen on the field. We’ll go into it with an open mind and let guys compete.”

Let’s call a timeout here.

Stanley won this race once already. Flashback all the way to the end of camp last August. Former offensive coordinator Greg Davis said Stanley was looking like the No. 2 quarterback. It was news because Stanley was a true freshman, on campus for maybe a month. Wiegers was a third-year sophomore. It seemed like a no-brainer. Put Stanley on redshirt and let him begin in 2017. Allow Wiegers to back up senior C.J. Beathard.

Stanley was too good to keep down. He burned the redshirt and threw nine passes last season. Ferentz has said all along that there’s no regret to this.

So, what’s changed? How is this a race again? It’s probably Brian Ferentz is the new offensive coordinator and O’Keefe is Iowa’s first dedicated QB coach since 1999, so lots of fresh eyes and ideas being poured in, why not take a long look at personnel.

“Coming out of camp last year, we thought Nathan had the edge,” Ferentz said. “That’s ancient history. That’s 11 months ago. . . . The thing I feel good about with Nathan and Tyler is they’re both high-caliber guys. Smart guys who prepare. We’re as eager as you guys are to see how this all plays out.”

You can’t hold the spring game performance of the QBs against them. Stanley threw a TD pass, but was largely inaccurate completing 6 of 17 for 13 yards with a TD and an interception. Wiegers finished 12 of 23 for 99 yards and two interceptions.

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