Notebook: Hawkeyes Not Interested in Talking About Penn State Loss

October 30, 2018

Written by Rob Howe

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Tuesday press conferences are pretty standard around here. Reporters ask players about the previous week’s game and preview the next opponent.

The Hawkeye players were fine addressing the latter on this day. They did everything possible to avoid the former.

Quarterback Nate Stanley, who struggled during Saturday’s 30-24 loss at Penn State, held tightly to the script.

Asked what he saw on film from the setback, he said:

“I missed a bunch of throws I’d like to have back. But you can’t have it back. So, you can’t dwell on the past. You have to learn from those mistakes and move on.”

Were there technical and fundamental errors or something different at play?

“I think maybe just a combination of some different things. But like I said, we’re just trying to move on right now, obviously learn from it and take away those lessons and move on.”

You talked earlier this season about playing relaxed and getting tools from a sports psychologist to do so. Is that hard to do in the moment?

“It’s definitely hard but I don’t really like to dwell on the past. I just kind of want to move on from that.”

His teammates approached questions about Penn State the same way as their signal caller. They wanted to talk about Saturday’s game at Purdue (2:30 p.m., ESPN2) not what happened in State College.

“It’s so easy to get caught up in previous games, whether it’s a win or a loss. If you spend too much time focusing in what you can’t control anymore, then your upcoming opportunities, that takes away from that. So, we just want to put all of our focus, all of our energy into this upcoming game,” running back Toren Young said.

No. 19 Iowa (6-2 overall, 3-2 Big Ten) heads to West Lafayette with a lot on the line. Winning out coupled with a Wisconsin loss would have them as the West Division champion with a spot in the conference title game.

And it’s not like Iowa is completing dismissing the Penn State game in preparing for the Boilermakers (4-4, 3-2). The coaches and players are looking at what went wrong. They’re just choosing to not talk about it in public.

“You can’t worry about it,” safety Amani Hooker said. “The season is going to keep going. Time doesn’t stop for you.”

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Stanley has received a lot of criticism for his 18-for-49 passing performance at Penn State. Some of it has been harsh.

“I was seeing some stuff about him. Obviously it’s not true. It’s what the fans see. It’s easy to see when a quarterback makes mistakes. We’re not worried about it. We understand Nate is a tough kid and understand how good he really is. He’s going to bounce back this week and have a really good game,” Hooker said.

The Hawkeyes found themselves in a similar position after losing the Big Ten opener against Wisconsin. Like Penn State, it was a game in which mistakes proved costly.

We’ll have to see if they can replicate the resiliency this time around. They certainly feel like they can.

“Everybody on this team is on the same page. We all have the common goal in mind,” Stanley said.

Stanley injured his right thumb in the second half at Penn State and had it taped up. He said he was feeling good enough to play against Purdue and head coach Kirk Ferentz echoed that optimism.

“He’s fine. He threw the ball well (Tuesday), and I think he’s good to go,” Ferentz said.

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INJURY REPORT: Backup tight end and key special teams’ performer Shaun Beyer injured his left leg in a non-contact drill during Monday’s practice and will miss at least the next two games. Fullback Brady Ross, who has sat out the last two weeks with a leg injury, was expected to remain sidelined for the next two contests, at minimum.

Starting running back Ivory Kelly-Martin left the Penn State game with an injury. He’s been nursing it this week.

“He’s a little sore right now, but we’ll see. I think he’ll play. He should be good to go,” Ferentz said.

Middle linebacker Kristian Welch sprained his foot against the Nittany Lions but remained in the game on special teams. Jack Hockaday replaced him on defense. The competition between the two for the No. 1 job has been ongoing this week.

“We’ll see how it goes. Kristian started it out (at Penn State), and then he sprained his foot a little bit, so he had to come out. He’s been practicing now, so we’ll see how the week goes, but we feel comfortable with both those guys playing that position,” Ferentz said.

FINDING FANT: Preseason all-American tight end Noah Fant has been a lightning rod for discussion this season. And it hasn’t always been for the plays he’s making on the field.

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Members of his family created some controversy by questioning the coaches about their usage of the Omaha product. Then, at Penn State, he did not catch a pass through three quarters. He ended up leading the team with five receptions for 56 yards.

“We’re not intentionally not trying to get him to not catch a ball. That would be pretty dumb on our part. Yeah, it’s a lot what (the opponents) do, and we have two pretty good tight ends,” Ferentz said. “So, if you’re going to defend us, you’re going to try to minimize their activity. I think that’s a good plan.

“We’re going to see more of that as we go along, too, so yeah, you try to design plays for certain players. Everybody does that in the game plan if you’ve got good players, and then it’s a challenge of do you get that opportunity to get them free, and that’s always the cat-and-mouse game that goes on.”

Fant leads the team with 31 receptions and six touchdown catches despite not seeing as many reps as fellow tight end T.J. Hockenson.

“Obviously I would like to be involved all the time but that’s not really in my control,” Fant said. “I can control if I catch the ball. I can control what I do with the ball when I catch it. I’m just kind of taking it from that standpoint, taking advantage of the opportunities I’m given.

“In the game, I’m not really focused on any of that. I’m just focused on being a team player. As long as we’re moving the ball, scoring points, that’s all that matters.”

NEXT IN LINE: With Stanley’s struggles and injury at Penn State, it got people thinking about his backups. Redshirt freshman Peyton Mansell is the No. 2 with true freshman Spencer Petras behind him.

Ferentz sounds confident in their ability but added that you never know how a player will perform until he’s on the field.

“Last year it would have been scary, last spring, and I think he made a big jump in August, and I’d say the same thing about Petras. He made a big jump from spring ball to August,” the coach said.

“But that’s the next step is getting on the field and seeing where they’re at. They’re doing a good job in practice and hopefully they’ll be ready to go because they’re all one play away from being out there.”

EXTRA POINTS: Stanley, Keegan Render, Parker Hesse and Jake Gervase will serve as this week’s captains…Former Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell, now with the Denver Broncos, will be back at Kinnick Stadium for the Nov. 10 game against Northwestern when he’ll be presented with the Lott IMPACT Trophy he won last season…Quinn Early, who played receiver at Iowa in the ’80s before going to the NFL, will be back in the area next week signing copies of his book, Bryant Acres.

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