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In Iowa’s three wins, Stanzi has started so well that he hasn’t had to dig himself out of the holes he used to put the Hawkeyes in.

“Doing less has almost been doing more for us at times. Not trying to convert every third down just because you feel you have to, and understand that it’s O.K. to punt,” Stanzi said. “Either score or punt.”

Ferentz has indicated that the Hawkeyes plan to attack opponents down the field more often to try to free up their running game. Iowa is down to its last running back with significant experience in sophomore Adam Robinson, and they’ll likely lean on Stanzi more than ever in Big Ten play.

The first test comes against the Nittany Lions, a team that’s given Stanzi trouble. Though he led the Hawkeyes on a game-winning drive in 2008 in one of the more memorable moments of his career, he was just 11 of 26 passing for 135 yards and two picks in Iowa’s 21-10 win at Penn State last season.

He’s gotten a lot better,” Penn State defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu said. “He looks more poised this year. He doesn’t throw the ball as careless as he used to, he makes quick decisions. He’s really a field general.”

(This version CORRECTS typo in 4th paragraph, ‘look’ instead of ‘like.’)