Hlas: Stanzi can be Heisman finalist

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March 31, 2014 | 7:43 am

IOWA CITY — This Ricky Stanzi fellow at Iowa measures up pretty well nationally through two-thirds of the season.

If I had to vote for the Heisman Trophy today, I’d fall in line with the majority who think Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is The Man. His team is unbeaten, and he’s third in the nation in passing efficiency and seventh in rushing. He has passed for 15 touchdowns, rushed for 14, and even has a TD catch. That’s strong.

After Newton and Oregon running back LaMichael James, though, does anyone seem clearly more-deserving than Stanzi of going to New York as one of the four or five Heisman finalists Dec. 11? The operative word is “clearly.”

An ESPN “experts poll” of 15 of the organization’s college football broadcasters and writers was released Tuesday. All voted Newton No. 1. Eleven made James, the nation’s leading rusher, their No. 2 picks. The other four had Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore second. The 11 who placed James second had Moore third.

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was fourth in the poll, with 12 fourth-place votes and one for fifth. Stanzi is tied for seventh in the poll, barely behind quarterbacks Denard Robinson of Michigan and Robert Griffin III of Baylor. Stanzi got one fourth-place vote and two for fifth.

Moore: 18 TD passes, two interceptions, 1,865 passing yards, first nationally in passing efficiency for a 7-0 team.

Luck: 20 TD passes, six interceptions, 1,920 passing yards, 345 rushing yards and three rushing TDs, 10th nationally in passing efficiency for a 7-1 team.

Stanzi: 19 TD passes, two INTs, 1,922 passing yards, second nationally in passing efficiency for a 6-2 team.

If Stanzi wanted a good campaign manager, he need look no further than his left guard, Julian Vandervelde.

“Just look at what he’s done, the numbers he’s putting up,” Vandervelde said. “And these aren’t cookie-cutter teams (he’s playing). These are Big Ten defensive backs. ... These are All-Big Ten guys, guys who are nationally considered some of the best at their position, and Rick has just torn it apart.”

If Iowa were 8-0 instead of 6-2, Stanzi would be considered someone with at least a shot to win the Heisman, especially since he has a high-profile opportunity against Ohio State left Nov. 20.

If not for the Hawkeyes’ special teams breakdowns and late-game defensive failures against Arizona and Wisconsin, Stanzi would be on everybody’s Heisman shortlists.

“He’s playing at a pretty high note,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “If he wants to go to New York, our team can help him by winning a lot more games. That’s the first thing I think you have to do, typically, to go out there. You’ve got to play for a real good team.

“But if they were selecting today, I would think he’d be at least in the discussion. I don’t know how big a group it would be, but he’d have to be in it.”

If Vandervelde and his teammates want to get their quarterback to New York, going 4-0 in November ought to be the ticket.

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