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Ken O’Keefe Raves About Nate Stanley’s Leadership Skills

December 12, 2018

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Like most quarterbacks, Nate Stanley performs under an intense spotlight. The Iowa junior handles that aspect of his position very well.

More importantly, the Wisconsin product doesn’t allow the outside noise to knock him off task. His position coach sees a high-level leader.

“He really does provide a great example for those guys to follow and that elevates everybody else’s performance, coaches as well,” Ken O’Keefe said Wednesday here at the football performance center. “That’s a standard that he sets.”

It’s a standard that was originally set by 20-year head coach Kirk Ferentz. The Hawkeyes have expected to outwork the competition.

Stanley (6-4, 242) and his teammates are preparing for their Jan. 1 Outback Bowl against Mississippi State. They’ll be facing the country’s stingiest defense. The Bulldogs allow just 12.0 point per game.

The Hawkeyes have experienced an up-and-down season on offense. They scored at least 30 points seven times. They also were held below 18 three times and under 24 two other times. As one would expect, Stanley struggled in the low-scoring contests.

His high point came in a win at Indiana, where he threw six touchdown passes. The low point happened in a loss at Penn State, where he was 18 for 49 with two interceptions. He looked unnerved in State College.

“He didn’t get down on himself. He may be disappointed in a couple of things but he never really gets discouraged. He’s a really smart guy so he knows where to go right away to try to fix things and improve,” O’Keefe said.

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It’s part of the maturation process for Stanley, who threw 20 touchdowns this season after tossing 26 last year. He’s learning as he goes and is very self aware.

“You don’t have to hardly tell him anything in those situations because he already knows. He’ll tell you as soon as he comes off the field. His ability to communicate what’s happening really helps me. He helps (offensive coordinator) Brian (Ferentz) as well,” O’Keefe said.

O’Keefe compared Stanley to former Hawkeye signal caller Nathan Chandler, who led Iowa to 10 wins and an Outback Bowl victory back in ’03. The coach said they shared the same body types but Stanley has the stronger arm.

Stanley and O’Keefe share a strong connection. They work well together but also have fun. They tell each other jokes on a regular basis. They’re focused on holiday humor right now.

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“They’re so stupid and corny. I just take them off the internet,” O’Keefe said.

Stanley has taken every meaningful snap the last two seasons. Redshirt freshman Peyton Mansell has backed him up the last two years. True freshman Spencer Petras joined the squad last January.

O’Keefe would be comfortable turning to Mansell if something where to happen to Stanley.

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“It’s next man in. That’s our philosophy. Nobody flinches. It’s as simple as that. He can make the throws and do the same things that we need to have done. He just doesn’t have time on task on the field,” the assistant said.

Mansell and Petras have progressed working behind Stanley. Much of it has come in getting more comfortable with the system and on fundamentally.

“It’s the things we do every day, whether it’s footwork drills, drops or throwing mechanics,” O’Keefe said

Watch what else O’Keefe had to say about the Stanley, the backups and recruiting quarterbacks in this HN TV video:

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