IOWA CITY — No, it’s not caffeine. And, yes, that line is getting a little old with Ricky Stanzi.
The Iowa quarterback gives a courtesy chuckle, but he’s done with the caffeine line and he wants to be over the first-half shakiness that prompts the caffeine question.
No, it’s not caffeine, but it’s something and the numbers bear it out.
In two first halves this season, Stanzi is 18 of 37 (48 percent) for 170 yards, two interception and two touchdowns with a pass efficiency of 96.5. Against Northern Iowa, he was sacked four times in the first half.
It’s not caffeine, so what is it?
“Maybe there’s something I should do. Maybe there’s something I shouldn’t do,” Stanzi said. “I think that’s something I’ll find out with time. As of right now, I’m not out there searching for new ways or anything like that. If I start to <aic:cstyle name =”[No character style]“/>[JUMP]settle down, I think that would probably be because of experience and playing in games.”
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz dismissed the notion that a lack of competition at quarterback has left Stanzi complacent. Stanzi, a junior, has red-shirt freshmen James Vandenberg and John Wienke, behind him.
The complacency theory is seriously flawed. Stanzi had to win the job in a public battle last season with junior incumbent Jake Christensen. He made his 12th start last week, so he’s way too new — and probably too smart — to allow complacency in his playbook.
“I almost wonder if he is pressing too much,” Ferentz said. “The throw to (tight end) Tony (Moeaki) the other day sailed high. I don’t know anything about being a quarterback, but I used to throw the baseball a little bit and I know if you pressed too hard that’s what happens.
“I’m no expert, but maybe a little bit of that is going on.”
Stanzi’s first-half foibles have generated a lot of attention and was a topic at Tuesday’s news conference.
“The first half thing is as much the receivers and tight ends,” said Moeaki, who, according to Ferentz, is battling a sprained ankle. “Maybe we’re not running … Actually, I know we’re not running good routes we’re running in practice, so the timing’s off. That’s definitely not all Rick’s fault. That’s everybody’s.”
What’s flown under the radar is the second-half rebounds.
Against Northern Iowa, Stanzi completed 16 of 21 for 179 yards and a TD. He finished ISU with 6 of 10 for 80 yards and two TDs. The third quarter has been Stanzi’s, completing 12 of 16 for 167 yards, a TD and a sparkling 183.31 efficiency. He’s had two completions of 25 yards or more in the third.
In the second half, Stanzi is 22 of 32 for 259 yards, three TDs and no picks for an efficiency rating of 167.68. More numbers? On third down, Stanzi is 7 of 14 for 97 yards, an interception and two TDs with an efficiency of 141.05.
When Iowa has really needed him — second half and third down — Stanzi has more than been there.
“I think once the game comes to you, it slows down and you get into the rhythm of the game and it gets easier,” the junior said. “Now, the challenge for me is to be able to do that from the get-go. That’s something I’ve been struggling with, I guess you could say. It’s something I’ll look to fix. You obviously want to play all 60 minutes perfect.”
For the record, Stanzi doesn’t partake in caffeine. He’s more of a Gatorade guy.
“You could (drink caffeine before a game) if you wanted to, I guess,” Stanzi said, chuckling, “but I’m not a big caffeine guy.”