Stanley: 'It was tough'

Nathan Stanley opened the 2010 season as Ole Miss' starting quarterback, a well-deserved reward for the redshirt sophomore.

Stanley had spent the last two seasons working in the background and burying himself in the offensive playbook behind former quarterback Jevan Snead.

Even with the arrival of Jeremiah Masoli in the summer, head coach Houston Nutt stuck with Stanley, considering he manned the first team throughout the spring and well into preseason practices.

But since his debut against Jacksonville State, when he tossed three touchdown passes, Stanley has again been forced to the sidelines for all but one series. Masoli has started the last three games, including one win.

"I'm the backup now," Stanley said Wednesday. "As far as my approach, I'm taking in what I can and being ready when my number's called."

A demotion wasn't what Stanley envisioned in his third season in an Ole Miss uniform. He said he was "very surprised" to learn the news, but supported Nutt's decision and stood behind him.

However, it didn't make the bitter pill any easier to swallow. He long prepared to be the starter, or at least one half of a two-quarterback system. But it hasn't worked out that way. When Ole Miss opened the year with a loss to Jacksonville State, Nutt turned to Masoli full time.

Nathan Stanley

"I've been in that position," Nutt said. "That's the hardest thing there is. It's not like linebackers and safeties and nickels, where you can have substitutions and get to play a lot. He's at the toughest position as far as playing time, because it's hard to do a two-quarterback system."

Not helping matters, Stanley was inactive against Tulane with inflammation in his throwing shoulder. He did his best to combat the pain, rehabbing the shoulder regularly in an attempt to return sooner.

"That Tulane weekend, it was pretty bad," he said of his injury. "I didn't know what was wrong with me. I was pretty scared. I started getting into the treatment room and getting treatment on it. It was a little sore coming into that next week, but as far as now, I'm good to go. We're past it."

His only series in the 27-14 win, and for the last three weeks, was a three-and-out. He's virtually been phased out of the offense, having not played a down in a loss to Vanderbilt and a win at home over Fresno State.

"It's been all right, I guess," Stanley said. "My approach, as far as just paying attention and taking in what I can, is still being focused and being ready.

"I think we've come a long way (offensively). We're starting to mature day by day. We showed against Fresno we can play. We've just got to keep building off that. That was a big win for us. We have to carry it over into Kentucky."

Nutt can understand Stanley's frustrations. And he sympathizes with him. Taking one for the team is never easy.

"He's done awesome," Nutt said. "He's done really good. He's throwing the ball good, he's trying to stay in tune with the game plan. I've been proud of him.

"That's difficult, because you know he's not happy. He wants the job. You want a competitor like that. I just appreciate his attitude. A good thing about it, and I've tried to tell him, just look at Eli Manning. Look when he really started to play. Look at what year he was in. There's a lot of good examples. He did some good things all spring and all summer. And he's going to be fine; he's going to be a good quarterback."

Stanley said he hopes he's still considered Ole Miss' quarterback of the future, but that only time will tell.

"We'll find out, I guess," he said. "(Coach Nutt's) been all right. He was up front with me. Like I said, it was tough. It was tough. But we've got to win some games, however we need to do it."

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