Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley and running back Toren Young reach for a bobbled snap during the spring game at Kinnick Stadium on Friday, April 21, 2017. Gervase had three total interceptions leading the defense to a 63-47 victory over the offense. (The Daily Iowan/ Alex Kroeze)

QBs face learning curve

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By Adam Hensley

adam-hensley@uiowa.edu

Iowa will have a quarterback under center (or in shotgun, who knows what Brian Ferentz goes with) on the opening weekend of the football season against Wyoming — that’s a given.

The decision on which signal caller will be the one taking the first snap is up in the air, however.

During Iowa’s spring game on April 21, Nathan Stanley and Tyler Wiegers got the majority of reps at quarterback.

Neither looked like they were ready to lead the team out of the tunnel on Sept. 2.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz, when asked whether Stanley or Wiegers would start if the regular season began on April 22, responded simply: “We’d be in trouble. Period.”

“We’d probably do a coin toss, literally do a coin toss, but luckily, we’re going to have at least 15, 18 practices before we make that decision,” Ferentz said.

It’s not as if Iowa won’t produce a capable starter come fall — one of the players will come out on top. Both need to get a full grasp of the new playbook and hone in on their accuracy.

On numerous occasions, miscommunication occurred between quarterbacks and receivers — a wideout or tight end broke off his route early, and the pass flew 5 to 10 yards farther down the field.

“[Learning a new offense] is definitely tough,” Stanley said. “That’s part of the game. That’s what we signed up for. It’s a new challenge, and I’m trying to get right on it and do the best I can.”

Wiegers tossed 2 interceptions in his first action in front of an audience since 2015. Along with those giveaways, he finished 12-of-23 for 99 yards, unofficially.

“We’ve made a lot of progress over the spring, and we just got to keep building chemistry and tempo moving forward to fall camp,” Wiegers said.

His first turnover found its way to free safety Jake Gervase. Wiegers’ overthrown pass flew a few yards in front of his receiver.

On a second and 3 with fewer than 30 seconds left in the first half, Wiegers, pass sailed 5 yards over Noah Fant’s head and into Gervase’s hands for pick No. 2. He returned the interception for a touchdown.

Stanley went 6-of-17 for 13 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

His lone interception came on a third and 11 in the second half. With two receivers running around 20 yards down field (and within a yard of each other), the sophomore’s throw dipped 2 to 3 yards behind his intended target, right to Gervase for his third pick of the game.

It appeared as though the receivers didn’t have their heads turned around — potential signs of miscommunication in a new system with unfamiliar vernacular.

Ferentz said he was not too concerned with his quarterback’s miscues.

“We’re not really cohesive right now offensively, and it’s not a big surprise,” he said.

While miscues clouded the quarterbacks’ outings, both signal callers had their bright spots. Each completed accurate throws along the sideline and found receivers in stride, just not on a consistent basis.

On a third and goal from inside the 5-yard line, Stanley fired a screen pass to Devonte Young, who battled a would-be tackler into the end zone for the first (and only offensive) touchdown of the game.

Coaches did not enter the spring game expecting to find a clear-cut, Week-1-ready starter. The game served as one of the limited opportunities for the passers to showcase their ability before the season begins.

“So what they can do now between now and the start of preseason camp, they have a chance to really advance and improve, go back, look at the tapes from the entire spring, and then hopefully, we’ll see a jump here when we get going in August,” Ferentz said.

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