IOWA CITY – Since getting knocked around by the Michigan defense on Saturday, Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley has continued to take a few hits.
Criticism comes with the territory as the third-year starting quarterback of a nationally-ranked football team.
The Hawkeye senior gets that, his performances critiqued regularly from one game to the next as he makes his way from one classroom to the next on the Iowa campus.
“People bring it up. I hear about whatever happens,’’ Stanley said.
The good, the bad, the in between, everybody has an opinion.
Stanley hears plenty of them, from other students in his classes to people he crosses paths with as he makes his way around Iowa City.
In the days since he was sacked eight times, threw a career-high three interceptions and was at the controls of an Iowa offense that was seemingly its own enemy at times, Stanley has concentrated on moving forward.
“It’s really the only thing you can do. Learn from it, fix the things we did to stop ourselves, work to get better and move on,’’ Stanley said.
The 17th-ranked Hawkeyes have worked toward that objective since finishing a review of tape from the 10-3 loss to the Wolverines and making on field corrections on Sunday, turning their attention to Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. home game against 10th-ranked Penn State.
That hasn’t prevented others from outside the program from offering their thoughts.
Stanley tries to avoid social media as much as possible, but can’t sidestep face-to-face encounters.
“People are entitled to their opinions, and they share them on occasion,’’ Stanley said. “You learn to deal with it.’’
And, Stanley said, you learn it can’t totally be avoided.
“It’s never easy. It seeps in a little bit,’’ he said. “It’s happened in the past, and you always learn new ways how to handle it. To me, the biggest thing is not looking at social media and not paying attention to it at all.’’
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said during his weekly news conference that tackling criticism the right way is as important as the technique it takes to be successful on the field.
“You can’t have a glass jaw in this sport, and really you can’t have a glass jaw in anything that’s competitive and hard to do,’’ Ferentz said. “Nobody feels good about what happened (at Michigan), certainly, and nobody feels worse than the people right out there on the front.’’
And if something does strike a nerve?
“Coaches, teammates, we’re there for each other,’’ Stanley said.
Iowa players also have a sports psychologist available to talk with them as well if they choose.
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Stanley, named Tuesday as one of 20 finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award presented to the top senior or fourth-year college quarterback, finds strength in past performances and understanding his own and the team’s capabilities.
“That’s the biggest comfort I get. I know that people are invested into this team, and I know people care about us and want us to be successful,’’ Stanley said.
“But in the long run, I know that I’m the one going through it with my teammates. We know the work that we’ve put in. If I’ve worked my hardest, then there is nothing else I can do.’’
He enters Saturday’s game against the Nittany Lions with a 21-10 record as a starter for Iowa and currently has a career-best 61.9 completion percentage during the Hawkeyes’ 4-1 start.
Stanley also ranks second in the Big Ten with an average of 19.8 completions per game and fourth with an average of 245 passing yards per game.
This week, those numbers pale in comparison to a desire to add another win to the Hawkeyes’ resume.
Stanley views the timing of a tough match-up against an unbeaten Penn State team as perfect.
“That’s honestly the best thing that could have happened for us,’’ he said. “We know that these guys have a great defense, that they are tops in the nation in a lot of statistical categories. We know that there is no time for us to feel sorry for ourselves.’’
Remembering Mitchell: Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz offered condolences to the family and friends of former Hawkeye running back Derrick Mitchell Jr., who died Tuesday at the age of 24 from injuries suffered in a car accident Friday morning in his hometown of St. Louis.
“It’s a very tough thing, way too young for something like that to happen,’’ Ferentz said. “Our feelings, certainly, and our condolences are with his entire family.’’
Mitchell was part of the Iowa football program from 2013-16, rushing for 174 yards and catching 21 passes for 165 yards before leaving Iowa as a graduate transfer where he ran for 601 yards as a senior at Incarnate Word in 2017.
Honoring Kroul: Former Hawkeye Matt Kroul was introduced Tuesday by the Iowa Farm Bureau as the eighth Iowa player to be selected for America Needs Farmers Wall of Honor at Kinnick Stadium.
Kroul, who operates Kroul Family Farms near his hometown of Mount Vernon, Iowa, will be honored at Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. game against Penn State.
“I’m humbled, honored to be part of this,’’ said Kroul, who is scheduled to sign autographs with former teammates Ricky Stanzi, Marvin McNutt and A.J. Edds in the ANF tent on the Krause Family Plaza south of Kinnick Stadium prior to Saturday’s game.
Back at it: Starting defensive tackle Brady Reiff is expected to be available to compete in Saturday’s game against Penn State after missing the last three games because of a knee injury.
Ferentz said Reiff has made steady progress since returning to the practice field last week.
Starting cornerback Matt Hankins is also back at practice, returning Monday after missing three games because of a hamstring injury.
“We’ll see how the week goes with him, but I think he has a chance to be available,’’ Ferentz said.