Last summer, talking tattoos with linebacker Pat Angerer, he said quarterback Ricky Stanzi had “Made in USA 1987″ tattooed somewhere on his back. And sure enough, he does.
And there’s this:
And, courtesy of Black Heart Gold Pants, we know this:
Part of this is legit obsession and part of it is Halloween costume (I think). Part of it was Chris Myers mindless question on the Orange Bowl platform.
Whatever it is, it’s part of the makeup of the most important player on Iowa’s offense next season.
After more than a month and a half off with an ankle injury, Stanzi had an MVP-ish Orange Bowl, completing 17 of 29 for 231 yards, two TDs and a 40-yard pick six, his fourth one of those this season.
He finished the year a 56.2 percent passer (171 of 304) with 17 TD passes and 15 interceptions. His pass efficiency finished at 131.62 and he averaged 219.7 yards a game.
OK, 15 interceptions. That’s too many. That’s among the nation’s leaders for regular starters. That’s too many.
Stanzi has said that.
“The way our offense is set up, we’ll take a lot of low percentage shots down the field that are tough to complete, but when you do, they pay off big,” Stanzi said. “It’s helped and it’s hurt us. It’s been a double-edged sword. We’ve done great getting a lot of plays down the field, but then of course we’ve had more interceptions than we’ve had.
“That’s all up to me. There’s no one else to blame on that one. You have to learn how to deal with those things during the course of the game and at the end of the season. A lot of it comes down to moving with your feet and not your arm. There are a lot of little things and plays that we can go back and look and improve on.”
And offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe has said that.
“It was disappointing that we didn’t take care of the ball as well as we should have,” O’Keefe said. “Rick would be the first to tell you that. We’re back working at that right now.”
You have to keep in mind that Iowa’s offense was different than 2008. The percentages shifted slightly toward a passing offense.
Iowa threw the ball 72 more times this season than last (392-320) and ran 61 fewer times (454 to 515 in ’08). Stanzi’s longest completion in ’08, his first season as starter, was 59 yards. This season, he had long completions of 92, 66 and 54 (in the Orange Bowl to tight end Tony Moeaki).
What changed? Shonn Greene went to the NFL and Jewel Hampton tore an ACL. With the top two backs out, suddenly Stanzi was the strength of the offense. A more telling number might be Iowa’s yards per carry, which went from 4.8 with Greene and a veteran O-line to 3.3 with a pair of freshmen and an O-line that fought injuries most of the season.
So, what’s Iowa QB look like in ’10?
Even though his performances were somewhat schizophrenic, Stanzi improved in every other way. He led the offense with a calm hand (see Michigan State). He showed leadership under fire (see Indiana and the five INTs).
His record as a starter is a sterling 18-4.
Is he your unquestioned starter for 2010? Without a doubt. Does the improvement have to come in decision making? The 15 interceptions say yes.
James Vandenberg had a nice performance against Ohio State. He nearly led the down-and-out Hawkeyes to their first victory at the Horseshoe since 1991. But even his final numbers reflected the more aggressive passing game this season, five interceptions to two TD passes.
Is he a serious challenger for PT next year? No, but he is a check-and-balance for Stanzi. He’s got real film and a bona fide resume. If Stanzi has another five-interception game (Indiana), maybe the hook comes out. At Ohio State, Vandenberg (a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder) showed a rocket arm and refined mechanics.
So, there’s not much question on 2010, but how does the roster look after that?
Yes, Vandenberg, a sophomore now, is positioned to be the heir apparent, but A.J. Derby is getting the ball rolling with his January enrollment. He’s 6-4, 220 already and his early enrollment shows he’s serious about getting a playbook in his hands. Also, sophomore John Wienke isn’t out of this.
Who knows when the development hits for some players?
Iowa will be looking for a little more of that from Stanzi in ’10.
What are your opinions? Is Vandenberg a serious contender for PT? What about 2011?
James Vandenberg (so.) — The 6-3, 205-pounder became something more than an interesting prospect from Keokuk last fall when he went into Ohio State and nearly pulled off the Hawkeyes’ first victory there since 1991. He showed beautiful mechanics, a strong arm and good vision of the field. He got a little lucky on that Moeaki tip, but overall, terrific performance, one that had ESPN analyst Matt Millen giggling.
In 2011, it’s Vandenberg’s ball. Or not. Derby and Wienke will have something to say about it.
John Wienke (so.) — Ferentz went out of his way to mention Wienke’s name when Stanzi went down last fall and the team went Vandenberg’s way. But reality says he has ground to make up.
Wienke is 6-5, 220. He has excellent size and a good, lively arm. He’s going to have to take advantage of every opportunity. With A.J. Derby in the fold, reps are going to become a scarce, precious commodity.
Wyatt Suess (fr.) — The 6-2, 185-pounder will be a redshirt freshman next fall. He’s a walk-on from Cedar Rapids Washington. He was a great athlete at Wash. I think he can contribute somewhere, someday. At QB, it’s going to get congested this spring, but, if he bides his time, develops, it can happen here for him. A lot is going to have to happen, though.
A.J. Derby (fr.) — When Ferentz said he could see Iowa altering the offense to take advantage of Derby’s skills, that got my attention. Derby is big (6-4, 220) and fast. He’s got dropback QB size with some wheels. That’s a great combo.
I think he redshirts next season and enters the competition in 2011. The fact that he’s already enrolled and ready for spring practice tells me he’s going to be serious about competing ASAP. Competition is a good thing. Everyone improves. Derby is going to be there to make sure.
Is he a QB? I think yes. Will he stay? Yes, as long as he wants and as long as it makes sense to him and the team.
Austin Vier (fr.) — He comes in knowing that his time at QB might be limited. His eyes are wide open. He wants to be QB, but he also knows TE might be in his future. Heck, at 6-7, 230, I think OT wouldn’t be a giant stretch, depending what the Iowa weightroom does to his body. Great attitude. Really wants to be a Hawkeye.
Evan McMillan (fr.) — Don’t know a whole lot, except that he’s a walk-on from St. Paul Academy. Might be more of an athlete than a QB prospect. He’s 6-5, 190. He’s a preferred walk-on, so that means he has a spot on the 105-man roster Iowa takes into fall camp.
Blake Haluska (fr.) – Another walk-on and, IMO, a darned good get for Iowa. Brother of former Hawkeye basketball star Adam Haluska, the 6-4, 195-pounder is very athletic and could project to a ton of different positions. Not sure if he comes in as a QB, but he’s a preferred walk-on, so he’ll be around in the fall. Surprised he picked a walk-on opportunity.
Here’s a link from a story from Ashley Schable of the Carroll Daily Times Herald.
Mark Alt (fr.) — The door isn’t completely shut on the 6-5, 185-pound star from Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul. He has a grayshirt offer from Iowa for the 2011 spring semester. He also has a hockey scholarship from Minnesota and NHL draft possibilities in June. This might take awhile to sort out, but, as far as I know, Iowa’s offer remains open.