Iowa QB Cade McNamara out for season after tearing left ACL vs. Michigan State

Iowa quarterback Cade McNamara will miss the rest of the 2023 season after tearing his left ACL during Saturday’s win over Michigan State.

McNamara was injured when he scrambled from the pocket in the first half and his knee buckled as he planted to cut. He didn’t return to the game and coach Kirk Ferentz confirmed Tuesday that McNamara had torn his ACL.

Deacon Hill replaced McNamara on Saturday and is in line to start in Week 6 against Purdue.

McNamara transferred to Iowa over the offseason from Michigan and finishes his first season in Iowa City with 505 passing yards. He completed just 46 of his 90 pass attempts and threw four touchdowns and three interceptions.

McNamara’s arrival juiced hopes for an Iowa offense that was absolutely dreadful in 2022. However, the offense didn’t take a big step forward through the first five weeks of the season. Just three wide receivers have caught a pass for the Hawkeyes and they total just 20 of the 61 receptions made by Iowa players so far this season. Tight ends have caught 29 passes while running backs account for the other receptions.

Iowa quarterback Cade McNamara (12) falls to the turf in front of Michigan State linebacker Darius Snow (23) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa QB Cade McNamara tore his ACL when he planted his left leg while scrambling against Michigan State on Saturday. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Iowa quarterbacks threw just seven touchdowns a season ago and the offense’s futility was a big reason that offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz — Kirk’s son — was retained for the 2023 season with a fascinating clause in his contract.

Brian Ferentz keeps his job if Iowa scores 25 points per game in 2023 and gets seven wins. The Hawkeyes are currently under that points threshold and it’s a goal that’s now even harder to attain without McNamara in the lineup. Iowa is currently averaging 22.2 points per game; only 32 teams in all of college football have scored fewer points per game and the offense is averaging just two touchdowns per game.

Ferentz’s clause, however, doesn’t strictly pertain to offensive scoring. That could be the difference-maker at the end of the season. The Hawkeyes went on to beat Michigan State, 26-16, on Saturday with the help of a 70-yard punt return by Cooper DeJean to break a 16-16 tie with 3:45 to go. Without McNamara, Iowa may need a few more special teams and defensive TDs over the second half of the season to challenge that 25-point mark.

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