At times this season, Nate Stanley completed passes that made fans truly believe in the NFL hype that surrounded him entering the season.
At other times, that notion was preposterous.
No matter what happened at times, though, the positives outweighed the negatives as Stanley posted another solid season under center.
Stanley threw for 2,638 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2018, and his yardage was up from 2,432 last season, which includes his numbers from Iowa’s Pinstripe Bowl victory over Boston College.
There were times this season where Stanley looked next to impossible to stop. Take his performance against Indiana on Oct. 13, for example.
Stanley tossed 6 touchdowns in a 320-yard effort, completing 21-of-32 passes. He finished with a season-high quarterback rating of 205.3 against the Hoosiers.
That wasn’t it, though. Just one week before at Minnesota, Stanley threw 23-of-39 for 314 yards and another 4 touchdowns.
For those counting at home, that’s 10 touchdowns in a two-week span, and it legitimately looked like he was going to break Chuck Long’s program record of 27 passing touchdowns in a season after Stanley had racked up 15 through six games.
If Stanley manages to toss 2 scores in Iowa’s Outback Bowl battle against Mississippi State on Jan. 1, he would become the only quarterback in Hawkeye history to throw at least 25 touchdowns in two different seasons.
However, Stanley didn’t break Long’s mark.
Stanley combined for just 1 touchdown pass in the next two games, and that is where his season lows come in.
He threw 1 touchdown against Maryland, which was impressive in itself, considering the windy conditions, but he didn’t find the end zone against Penn State on Oct. 27.
Against the Nittany Lions, Stanley completed an abysmal 36.7 percent of his passes (18-of-49) for 205 yards and 2 interceptions.
Stanley suffered a thumb injury in the loss, hitting it against a Nittany Lion helmet, and the rest of the season was marred by injury speculation and a couple close losses.
Stanley bounced back in his final two games, however, tossing 5 touchdowns and 330 yards.
“He didn’t get down on himself,” Iowa quarterback coach Ken O’Keefe said. “He may be disappointed in a couple of things, but he never really gets discouraged. And he’s a really smart guy, so he knows where to go right away to try to fix things and improve.”
The backups seem to have been improving as well. Both Peyton Mansell and Spencer Petras found their way onto the field in 2018.
Mansell completed 5-of-8 passes for 83 yards and a pick on the season, and Petras attempted 1 pass.
O’Keefe let out a laugh about Mansell starting the bowl game but said he would be confident in his backup. He said Mansell can make the throws needed but doesn’t have the on-field experience.
“I would be [comfortable],” O’Keefe said. “If anything were ever to happen, it’s next man in. That’s our philosophy. Nobody flinches, and the next man goes. Simple as that.”
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