COLUMBUS, Ohio — James Vandenberg wanted a lot of it back. No matter how steady and gutsy it was, he couldn’t get past the result.
The redshirt freshman quarterback played well in No. 15 Iowa’s 27-24 overtime loss at Ohio State. Filling in for injured starter Ricky Stanzi, Vandenberg made his first start in front of 105,544 fans who didn’t exactly wish him success, on ABC national TV and for a Big Ten championship and the Rose Bowl.
He played well, completing 20 of 33 for 233 yards, two touchdowns and a three interceptions. He played well, but Iowa lost.
He couldn’t get past that. Winning is the point, and he knows it.
“There are a lot of plays I want back,” said Vandenberg, whose last pass in overtime, on fourth-and-26, was intercepted in the end zone. “You can’t take them back. We always talk about just forgetting it.
“This one hurts bad. It hurts all of us right now. It’s going to hurt tomorrow. We still have another game, we still have senior day.”
After Vandenberg jumped in for Stanzi in the second quarter last week against Northwestern, no one really knew what to expect.
He finished 9 of 23 for 82 yards with an interception. He was unsteady and he was going into the Horseshoe, with Stanzi sidelined the rest of the regular season with a high-ankle sprain. He had surgery Monday.
“He played as if he was one of those leaders that you’ve been worth for a while,” said wide receiver Marvin McNutt, who six passes for 78 yards and two TDs. “He came to the huddle . . . probably more calm that anybody in the huddle. You really need that from a quarterback.
“He played awesome. He played like a veteran.”
During the week, Vandenberg assumed the mantle. He was the first one in the Hayden Fry Football Complex and he was the last one out.
“He sent me text messages about plays all week,” wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos said. “It was amazing. He was in the building late, all night. His moped was the last moped there. He invested and he played well. He surprised a lot of people.”
He made massive improvement in one week. Both of his TD throws to McNutt were big time. The first one, a 9-yarder, split perfect coverage from corner Chimdi Chekwa and strong safety Kurt Coleman. The second was a perfectly lofted fade that beat Chekwa.
Still, three interceptions. One set up OSU at Iowa’s 49. Brandon Saine scored on the first play to give OSU a 24-10 lead with 11:11 left in the game.
“We’ve had the luxury of being around him for 15 months or something like that,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He’s been very impressive with everything he’s had to deal with and handle. We had confidence. He showed good poise and leadership traits and mental and physical toughness.
“This was his first real game. And I really compliment him. He gave us a chance to win the football game.”
High compliment from the head coach. Probably won’t do much for a quarterback who wanted to win.