IOWA CITY, Iowa — When looking to improve his completion percentage, Nate Stanley doesn’t look at his arm.
He focuses on his feet.
Part of Iowa’s summer routine involves devoting time to film study and trying to improve before preseason camp opens in July.
For the starting quarterback, that means plenty of sessions reviewing his footwork in hopes it will help him to increase his completion percentage.
“Coach O’Keefe talks about it all the time,” Stanley said. “Footwork is what makes everything else go.”
Working on his footwork isn’t new for Stanley. He did it last summer.
He’s spending time on it again because his feet are one of the keys to improving his biggest issues last season. Stanley completed only 54.84 percent of his passes.
“The feet drive the shoulders and can throw off the accuracy,” Stanley said.
Stanley pulls up clips from last season. He watches his feet when he drops back on passes. He wants to make sure his drops are crisp, the proper length and that he’s using the correct number of steps.
Stanley also studies his feet upon his release. Often, he learned an incompletion starts with a bad step before he even starts his throwing motion.
“Really, look at what I did last year and see what I did good,” Stanley said. “[Then also] what I can improve on and the things that weren’t maybe so good you can start from step one, from the basics again and really re-teach that.”
The rest of the Hawkeyes are doing something similar in the weeks before the season starts. The defensive backs gather two or three times a week to watch film of upcoming opponents.
For cornerback Michael Ojemudia, the biggest benefit comes in watching Northern Illinois, the season-opening opponent, on film.
“The first game of the season we don’t know what their 2018 tape will look like,” Ojemudia said. “So knowing anything we can, any tips we can get on them will help.”
Offensive line coach Tim Polasek gives his players a weekly film assignment. The clips range from specific concepts in Iowa’s playbook to studying how NFL starters such as former Iowa player Marshall Yanda succeed.
Last week, Polasek made his linemen review Northern Illinois. The play of All-American defensive end Sutton Smith jumped out to center Keegan Render. Smith recorded 29.5 tackles for loss and 14.0 sacks last season.
“They are pretty athletic on the edges,” Render said. “Their two defensive ends look pretty good. Their inside guys are bigger guys. They come off the ball.”
Stanley made major strides in the winter and spring, impressing O’Keefe with his command of the offense.
By honing in on his footwork, Stanley hopes O’Keefe is just as excited about the improvement in his accuracy when the season starts.
“Completion percentage is something that can be a lot higher next year,” Stanley said. “[I am] just trying to continue to work on throwing passes where they are intended to be.”