AMES, Iowa – In the sea of craziness that was Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the captain of the Hawkeyes’ ship remained calm at the helm.
Sophomore quarterback Nate Stanley passed his first road test, guiding the Hawkeyes to a 44-41 overtime victory against Iowa State.
The start was the second in the college career for the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Wisconsin native and his steadiness allowed Iowa to maneuver its way through plenty of choppy waters against the Cyclones.
Down seven. Up four. Down three, then 10. Tie game. Down six. Tied again. Up three.
It was seemingly just another day at the office for Stanley, whose follow up to persevering through four turnovers in his starting debut proved to be navigating the Hawkeyes to a chance to retain the Cy-Hawk Trophy for the third straight year despite the efforts of an improving Iowa State team.
He threw five touchdown passes as part of a 27-of-41 passing performance which covered 333 yards while orchestrating an offense which ran the ball 41 times and threw it 41 times while piling up 497 yards.
No Hawkeye quarterback since Chuck Hartlieb in a 1987 game against Northwestern had thrown for five scores and more than 300 yards in a game until Stanley accomplished that feat against the Cyclones.
In his first two starts Stanley has thrown seven touchdown passes, more than any other quarterback in a two-game debut during Kirk Ferentz’s 19 seasons at Iowa.
The work to this point impresses Ferentz.
“You come out of that game thinking this guy’s got something to him,’’ Ferentz said, praising the poise and resiliency Stanley showed while working in a tough road environment.
Center James Daniels wasn’t surprised.
“If you’ve ever really been around him, he’s just very calm,’’ Daniels said. “I’ve never really seen him show emotion. He gets in the huddle, says the play, says ‘C’mon guys, let’s go, let’s go,’’’ and we go. He stays very calm. How calm and composed he can stay is really a good trait.’’
Stanley believes that is part of the job description.
“In a game, you have to keep moving forward. You can’t get wrapped up in the moment, just go out and compete,’’ he said. “It has to be that way. If you make a play or miss a play, you’ve got to get on to the next one.’’
There is still work to do.
He overthrew Noah Fant a couple of times on deep balls and was unable to connect on a couple of opportunities that could have helped Iowa avoid overtime, illustrative of how he remains a work in progress.
“I was silently hoping that wasn’t going to come back and haunt us,’’ Ferentz said. “We had a couple of opportunities we couldn’t hit. That’s practice. We have to get that stuff done in practice. We’re not quite there yet. That’s kind of representative of our whole team.’’
It’s all part of the process.
“The biggest thing from last week to this one is he looked steady out there,’’ Ferentz said. “Even sitting on the bench, he looked steady and was right there with the game. That was good to see.’’