Entering Wednesday, there was question as to who would suit up at quarterback for the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday when the Utah State Aggies open the 2023 season on the road in Iowa City.
Per ESPN’s Pete Thamel, that question has all but been answered, though.
Thamel reported Wednesday afternoon that, according to multiple ESPN sources, Michigan transfer Cade McNamara will start at quarterback for the Hawkeyes against the Aggies, despite having suffered a quad injury only a couple of weeks ago.
“There is a prevailing notion that Cade McNamara will go,” Thamel said on College Football Live. “He (McNamara) has an extremely high competitiveness level and an extremely high pain threshold. The thought is that he can go.”
What McNamara will look like playing injured remains a question, but Thamel noted that the expectation is that Iowa will operate conservatively with the graduate transfer.
“(Iowa) probably won’t run him very much, will probably play him pretty conservative, which is the way Iowa likes to play anyway,” Thamel said. “The strength of Iowa is its two tight-ends, so expect a ton of 12 personnel. Expect Cade McNamara to go, as of right now, but to be slightly limited.”
That belief falls in line with that of Utah State head coach Blake Anderson, who said earlier this week that Iowa would play the same way on offense regardless of who they trotted out at quarterback.
“We know they’re going to be as big a test as we’ve seen,” Anderson said. “We know they’re going to be well coached and the environment is going to be chaotic. Whatever quarterback they throw up, we gotta defend. The offense is not going to change drastically because one or the other quarterback is playing. They’ve recruited some good transfers and we’re expecting more speed than we’ve seen on film, but ultimately, kind of their MO is who they are.”
McNamara, a one-time starter at Michigan who led the Wolverines to a Big Ten championship, has described his decision to transfer to Iowa as a real positive.
“I’ve been nothing but so happy that I made this decision,” he told Fox Sports.
With two years of eligibility remaining, McNamara is an experienced winning quarterback Iowa can build around, and Thamel believes that the team intends to do so immediately, hence the decision to play him this weekend.
“They (Iowa) have a trip to Iowa State next week and they go to Penn State on Sept. 23, so the coaching staff is going to look to the big picture (by starting McNamara), while also getting the win against Utah State on Saturday,” Thamel said.