Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley has started for two seasons and has a realistic chance to pass Chuck Long for most passing touchdowns in school history. If you were to look at Twitter or any Iowa message boards throughout the season, you’d be surprised if he was good enough to start for a middle school team. It’s surprising when you realize that Iowa legend Chuck Long threw 46 interceptions during his Hawkeye career. Can you imagine if Stanley did that?
Long finished his first season in 1982 with eight touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. People were ready to bench Stanley in favor of a redshirt freshman for missing some deep throws against Wisconsin or Penn State.
That’s the society that we live in today’s time. Social media allows everyone to publicly state their opinion on any topic they like. The mental toughness and endurance it takes to play college athletics nowadays are unparalleled to any time before it. Everyone is an expert and it’s easy to criticize when you’re looking using a camera angle than actually being on the field going through the motions and making game-changing decisions in a split second. With that, Stanley understands the fans’ passion for the black and gold.
“You have to know that our fans care about us as much as we care about winning, too,” Stanley said. “Just realize that not all the information is there for them.”
It’s probably for the better that Stanley doesn’t have Twitter or Facebook, so he can limit listening to what people say about him. He hears the outside noise, but he knew it was coming when he accepted the scholarship to Iowa.
“If you don’t know that’s going to come, you’re a little naïve, I think,” Stanley said. “You have an idea what people might say about you, especially after a game.”
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If Stanley can throw for at least one touchdown against a tough Mississippi State defense, he will break a tie with the Chuck Long for most TD passes in a two-year span (49) by an Iowa quarterback. There have been missed opportunities in all phases of the game for the last two seasons and Stanley is the first one to admit that there are a lot of throws he wishes he could have back.
“It’s a special place especially to be up with someone like Chuck Long,” Stanley said. “It’s awesome to be considered up there statistically-wise in some categories with him. I know that I’ve missed a lot of opportunities for more (touchdowns), but you learn from it and do everything you can to make that throw that next time or to realize something pre-snap ahead of time.”
It does beg the question, are people more critical of Stanley because they see the potential that he has? His five touchdown performance against a top-tier Ohio State team in 2017 or his six-touchdown performance against Indiana this season were something to behold. Of course, those type of performances only give you a break from scrutiny until the next time you go out on the field.
It’s also important to realize that Stanley is not 100 percent. He hurt his thumb in the fourth quarter of the Penn State game. He’s thrown for seven touchdowns and one interception in the last four games, but the Hawkeye play calling hasn’t been as aggressive.
“It’s a nuisance. It happens. People play (less than) 100 percent all the time,” Stanley said. “Obviously, made some things tougher than I would have liked it to be. But that goes with the territory of being a competitor.”
People have praised Stanley and have been incredibly frustrated with him at the same time. When teams win or lose, the first question typically is “How did the quarterback perform?” While it’s fair to be critical of Stanley for not being consistent, it’s also important to realize what he’s brought to the table for Iowa.
Teammates have raved about Stanley being one of the best teammates they could ask for. His constant leadership, focus, and tough mentality have all been praised. He tends to try to stay out of the spotlight and is the first to give his teammates credit. Stanley’s still a college kid, but he’s an old soul in a results-now generation.
He likely will return for his senior year and has the potential to put together one of the best seasons in school history. At 6-foot-4 242-pounds and a big arm, he will get a shot in the NFL. And with his numbers and potential, he deserves it.