The old adage is that the backup quarterback is the most popular guy on campus. For Iowa, that is not true. But true freshman Nate Stanley is turning some heads in fall camp and, according to head coach Kirk Ferentz, has surpassed Drew Cook on the depth chart and is currently Iowa's third option behind Beathard and Tyler Wiegers, the sophomore from Michigan.
They have even gone as far as saying that Stanley is in contention for the number two spot with Wiegers.
This shouldn't surprise anyone given that Stanley, at 6'4" and 210 pounds is already big enough to play quarterback in the Big Ten, and was a four star recruit out of Wisconsin in the class of 2016.
Wiegers, who is entering his third year on campus, has the upper hand when it comes to experience, but we haven't been able to truly see what he is capable of due to the fact that he has sat behind Jake Rudock and Beathard during his first two seasons in Iowa City.
We got to see a little bit from him in the spring game, but I don't know how much stock I can put into that. He didn't look great, but it is just the spring game and while it's nice to get a look at what guys can give you, I don't believe that is the Wiegers we would see if he took the field this fall.
Wiegers displays a strong arm and has good size for the position, but I personally believe that Stanley's arm is better and they almost mirror each other in terms of size.
We talked about a couple of scenarios if the unspeakable happens and C.J. Beathard gets hurt. Let's go further here.
Beathard's Helmet Comes Off
This one is fairly easy. If his helmet were to come off, by rule, he would have to sit the next play out. You bring in Wiegers and, depending on the down and distance, have him turn and hand it to either LeShun Daniels or Akrum Wadley and C.J. is back in on the next snap. This is by far the easiest of the scenarios.
Hawkeyes Winning in Blowout Fashion
This could very well happen in about 10 days when Iowa takes the field against Miami (OH) for their first game of the year. The Redhawks weren't very good last year and didn't bring much in to help their cause. They enter hostile territory in an environment that should be rocking because we all know how long Iowa fans have waited to get this season started.
I'd still go with Wiegers in this scenario as well. You'd burn Stanley's redshirt over nothing essentially. It's garbage time against a team that Iowa could probably beat with Wiegers playing the entire game. Stick with Wiegers, finish the game, and celebrate.
Beathard's Ankle Gets Rolled up on
Let's say in the middle of the season, CJ gets rolled up on a little bit and is forced out of a game in the middle of the third quarter. I would say you toss Wiegers in for the remainder of the game and assess the situation after when you have more information on the injury. If CJ is out for 1 week, I would stick with Wiegers, but if he is ruled out for 3-4 weeks, the staff is really going to have to ask themselves the question of who gives them the best shot at winning.
This could honestly all depend on timing and where they are in their schedule.
If Stanley is your guy and it's a crucial part of the season, you have to pull the trigger and go with the true freshman. And I think the staff is already leaning that way.
If it comes down to a game on the road at Penn State, it really isn't going to matter who has more experience because neither one of your backups have experience going on the road, especially to a place like Happy Valley.
Beathard Out More Than Six Weeks
This would be absolutely unbearable and most likely will not happen given what we saw last year from C.J. and how tough of a player he is, but in this situation the staff is again going to have to ask who gives them the best shot right now and I believe that it's Stanley.
He's going to be able to get his feet wet and will still have a good running game, offensive line, and a good defense on the other side that Iowa would still have a good shot at winning the Big Ten West.
You would lose his redshirt, but if he gives you the best chance to win, you play him. This would also likely mean that he would enter 2017 as the projected starting QB.
Stanley passing Cook on the depth chart probably means that Cook might be headed for a position change. It may honestly hinge on what happens next season after C.J. graduates. If we see a QB transfer, Cook probably stays at QB, if everyone stays, then Cook may make a move to tight end.
Whether or not Nate Stanley finds the field this year, Iowa has found themselves a gem.