Iowa’s Cade McNamara: Game Manager or Gunslinger?

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Iowa’s Week Three win over Western Michigan saw the Hawkeyes’ running game finally awaken from its multi-year slumber, piling up 254 yards and three touchdowns. While the game was closer during the first half than Hawkeye fans would have liked, the second half saw Iowa score more points than they had in either of their first two games (27), hold the Broncos to 35 yards of total offense, and make several big plays on special teams. As Iowa prepares for this week’s marquee matchup against Penn State, it does so having just played its most complete game of the season.

However, Iowa’s passing game remains a serious question mark. On Saturday, the Hawkeyes mustered only 133 passing yards against an opponent that was allowing an average of 286.5 per game. Starting quarterback Cade McNamara threw for only 103 yards and completed under 50% of his passes for only the third time in his career. Meanwhile, Iowa’s pass protection, which had been solid through the first two games, suffered several significant breakdowns, allowing McNamara to be sacked four times and pressured on several other occasions. Iowa’s passing struggles against Western Michigan are unfortunately not out of character for the team this season, as the Hawkeyes rank in the bottom three of the Big Ten in completion percentage (53.4%), yards per attempt (5.9), and passer rating (111.91).

Iowa is no stranger to inefficient passing games after spending the last three years trying to fit the square peg of Spencer Petras into the round hole of the Brian Ferentz offense. While the arrival of McNamara and transfer pass catchers Erick All, Seth Anderson, and Kaleb Brown was supposed to resolve these issues, Iowa’s offense still has not figured out how to make the passing game click. Some of these problems can be chalked up to early season jitters (did anyone watch Alabama throw for 107 yards on Saturday against a USF team that went 1-11 last season?) and chemistry issues caused by the influx of new transfers and McNamara missing significant time in the offseason. However, between the start of the Big Ten season and the injury to Iowa’s leading receiver Luke Lachey, Iowa’s margin for error in the passing game will get significantly smaller in the weeks to come, raising questions about whether Iowa’s poor passing attack is about to get even worse.

Cade McNamara’s tenure as Iowa’s starting quarterback has been a mixed bag so far. On one hand, the Hawkeyes are 3-0 with Cade running the offense, are averaging 11 more points per game than they did last season…

Read More: Iowa’s Cade McNamara: Game Manager or Gunslinger? 2023-09-18 11:01:00

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