Iowa Football

4 Downs with Iowa's quarterbacks: A senior leader and then 2020 hopefuls

Nate Stanley 'doesn't have to be the guy that's going to save our team'

Quarterback Nate Stanley (4) is photographed during Iowa football media day in Iowa City on Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Quarterback Nate Stanley (4) is photographed during Iowa football media day in Iowa City on Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

A closer look at the Iowa quarterbacks heading into the 2019 season.

The quarterbacks — Nate Stanley (6-4, 243, sr.), Peyton Mansell (6-2, 208, so.), Spencer Petras (6-5, 230, #fr.), Alex Padilla (6-1, 193, fr.), Ryan Schmidt (6-5, 237, sr.), Connor Kapisak (6-5, 211, #fr.)

First Down

In December, quarterbacks coach Ken O’Keefe said two things that should serve as the “Nate Stanley guide for success in football the 2019 edition.”

“Just keep trying to improve every day. The rest of it is going to take care of itself,” O’Keefe said.

Simple but true.

The other thing was this: “Really, the only time he got himself into trouble was when he tried to push through something that he wasn’t seeing quite right and maybe put a ball where he really didn’t want it to go,” O’Keefe said. “That’s the thing you’ve got to fight. You have to resist the urge to try to do something that you know isn’t quite correct and just keep moving on from there.”

One thing that O’Keefe has seen out of Stanley so far this fall is the 6-4, 243-pound Menomonie, Wis., native has moved from being a cog in the process to being a bigger part of the process.

“He can help improve the process with how he sees things,” O’Keefe said. “He might suggest things. When you’re a freshman or sophomore, you’re pretty much doing what the coach says. After you start for two or three years, now the relationship becomes more even. I want to know more about what you’re thinking and what you’re seeing. How do you feel about this versus that and how can I help you see this better or do this better?”

And then, head coach Kirk Ferentz said this on media day in response to a question about expectations for Stanley: “Just play the best he can play. He doesn’t have to be the guy that’s going to save our team or be the face of Iowa football. He’s just got to play really well at quarterback.”

Really is that simple.

Second Down

Yes, this is the part for the “backup QB question.”

The answer is ... they simply don’t know. Also, the Iowa staff might not have to reveal that this season. Someone can be listed there on depth charts simply as a placeholder. If Stanley stays healthy, why come out and say who the backup is?

Why trip the transfer trigger if you don’t have to? That is part of this. When people reference “roster management,” a lot of that is keeping a steady, healthy flow of QBs rolling through the program.

After the one look at Kids Day on Aug. 10, redshirt freshman Spencer Petras moved the team. Sophomore Peyton Mansell had moments and did take snaps with the first team.

Third Down

As the “talking” part of the season winds down, it has been a different Stanley.

Last year, he went to Big Ten media days in Chicago and did answer a lot of questions about himself. Another thing to keep in mind, Stanley did check into leaving early for the NFL last season and decided to return to school.

This year at Big Ten media days, Stanley turned questions into more of a Ted Talk about leadership.

“I’ve always felt confident that if someone sat down and watched me work that they would see that I’m giving 100 percent every day,” he said. “The verbal leadership is something I’ve worked on. You don’t have to talk a lot, but when you do talk, it has to mean something.”

Fourth Down

Stanley is in range of some giant milestones in Iowa football. Let’s check and see what’s “gettable” and what’s fantasy football.

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Chuck Long’s 10,461 yards passing (1981-85) — Stanley enters his senior year at 5,351. This one is off the table.

Chuck Long’s 74 TD passes — Stanley has 52, so this one is in range. Mark it “gettable.”

Chuck Long’s 65 percent completion percentage — Stanley is at 58 percent. This isn’t happening. For Kirk Ferentz-era QBs, Ricky Stanzi (2007-10) leads at 59 percent. If Stanley beats that number, Iowa is probably playing its season finale in Indianapolis.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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