PHOENIX — Ricky Stanzi put up gorgeous numbers this season. We’re talking super model beautiful. Good enough for framing.
The Iowa quarterback’s 26 touchdown passes are third on Iowa’s season list. He finished second in the Big Ten and 11th in the nation with a pass efficiency of 160.5. He threw just four interceptions, the fewest for an Iowa QB since Brad Banks threw just five in 2002.
“If you’re just going off stats, then you’d say it’s probably a pretty good season,” the senior said after Iowa’s Insight Bowl practice Wednesday. “But if you’re going off record, it’s not.”
And therein lies the rub.
Stanzi finished with super model stats. He completed 210 0f 324 passes (nearly 65 percent) for 2,804 yards. He was a semifinalist for the national QB awards, the Maxwell Award and the Davey O’Brien Award.
The Hawkeyes finished 7-5 and go into the Insight Bowl matchup against No. 12 Missouri (10-2) looking to snap a three-game losing streak.
No, Stanzi isn’t exactly in the framing mood.
“Last year, my stats were poor, but we had a great team that won a lot,” Stanzi said. “This year, my stats were really good and our team didn’t win as many games.
“What does that mean? I don’t know. Do I care? No. And I’m not really worried about it, either. Our point as a team is to go out there and compete. That’s the real thing.”
What it definitely means is that it takes more than a QB with pretty stats to win.
There are a million theories out there for Iowa’s collapse. From the defense allowing clutch, fourth-quarter TD drives to the two-minute offense clanking, Iowa struggled in November, winning just one of four games with losses by three, four and three points.
“Football is a crazy game,” Stanzi said. “There are all sorts of ways to win and lose.”
The Hawkeyes had more than their share of problems in November 2010.
“The thing I say about wins and losses, a lot of people involved,” coach Kirk Ferentz said Wednesday. “It’s not just offense, defense, special teams. There are a lot of things that go into winning and losing games. Quarterback performance is certainly important, but it’s not the only story.”
The 2010 stats were nice for Stanzi. They were a dream for any quarterback, especially compared to Stanzi’s 2009 season. He admitted the numbers his junior year weren’t what he wanted, 17 TD passes, 15 interceptions and a 56 percent completion rate.
“You want to play well, you want to have good stats. That’s going to help your team win,” he said. “You don’t want to go out there and lay an egg. At the same time, the main focus isn’t the stats, it’s how you’re competing as a team and how much effort you’re putting in. Are you putting yourself on the line every day and holding yourself accountable?”
There’s no stat for accountability, except maybe wins and losses. The aftermath the Hawkeyes experienced off the field in the last couple weeks are the stats that count toward accountability.
Wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos was arrested for drug-related charges and essentially kicked off the team. Johnson-Koulianos caught 46 passes and 10 TDs while becoming the school’s career leader in receptions and receiving yards.
Running back Adam Robinson, who led the Hawkeyes in rushing for the second season, was suspended for the bowl game. Running back Jewel Hampton, who’s been out since September with a torn ACL, left the team.
Maybe that’s what Stanzi is referring to.
“That’s got to be our main measure right now,” Stanzi said.
If someone Iowa football has said Johnson-Koulianos’ name since his arrest, they haven’t done it on the record. Iowa players have been schooled in how to handle the topic.
“We can only play with the guys we have here, so that’s what we’re working on,” Stanzi said. “The guys here, those are the guys were going to play with. They’re working hard every day. That’s going to give us the best chance to win, practicing as hard as we can every single day with guys here on the trip.”
True freshman Marcus Coker will be the running back. He’s rushed for 403 yards in six games. Wide receiver might be more of a committee deal, with seniors Colin Sandeman and Don Nordmann, sophomore Keenan Davis and freshman Don Shumpert.
Ferentz said he isn’t worried.
“We’re not worried about who’s not here,” Ferentz said. “We’re worried about the guys here and they’re going to do fine.”
Stanzi was asked how he would evaluate his performance this season. He focused on the competing.
“The more you worry about the stats and the outcomes, the more you get tangled up in it,” he said. “It just kind of pulls you down and doesn’t let you compete the way you want to.”
So yes, if he throws a couple pick sixes and the Hawkeyes somehow win next Tuesday, he’d be good with that.