IOWA CITY — The Iowa football players have been very careful, very political, about what they’ve said when asked about the quarterback competition waged between Ricky Stanzi and Jake Christensen. They have been very complimentary toward both players and haven’t openly shown any favoritism.
But a couple of quotes this week caught my attention, along with the fact that I just got the feeling after Saturday’s game that the receiving corps is more in tune with and has more confidence in Stanzi.
First, from receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos on Saturday:
“Rick, even if he’s not in the game, it’s almost like he is in the game. You come to the sideline, and he tells you what he’s seeing, what reads to make. He wants it. He’s a hungry guy. But at the same time, he’s so poised. You’ve got to love it. … Rick’s a righty, Jake’s a lefty, so maybe the spin’s different. But a ball’s a ball. Rick does a great job with ball placement. We’re excited about him. We’re excited about the season. We’re excited about what’s to come for us this year.”
DJK also was quoted in another state paper saying this:
“For Rick when he comes in the huddle it’s more, ‘Just relax and we’re going to play our game. We’ve been doing this all week, let’s just go out and play.’ There’s no tension, he’s not yelling. He knows the job you have to do. For his first game starting, just poise. He defined it today.”
Now, DJK didn’t say anything about Christensen in the quote, but you have to wonder when he says about Stanzi, “There’s no tension, he’s not yelling. He knows the job you have to do,” what does that say about Christensen when you read between the lines? Is there tension when Christensen is in the huddle? Is he yelling? Is there confusion about the job that needs to be done?
I’m not drawing conclusions here, just throwing it out there. It makes you wonder.
And it got me wondering even more Tuesday, when lineman Julian Vandervelde said this when asked about the difference between Stanzi and Christensen in the huddle:
“In the huddle, I mean, (Stanzi) is a little more calm and relaxed. Jake is more business focused, I think. Either way you look at them, they both have their positive aspects. You want a guy in the huddle that is going to be business focused and wanting to win, but, at the same time, you want a guy who is not riled up and every little thing doesn’t get him excited. So, they both have aspects about them that we really like when they’re sitting back there behind the center.”
These are the complete quotes, and I’m being careful here not to take them out of context.
Again, Vandervelde didn’t say anything negative about Christensen. Or did he? “You want a guy in the huddle that is going to be business focused and wanting to win, but, at the same time, you want a guy who is not riled up and every little thing doesn’t get him excited.” What does that say to you?
With the delicacy of this situation, the changing of the guard under center, no one at Iowa is ever going to give an honest evaluation of Christensen’s play or give up the real reason he’s now the backup. You have to read between the lines to get an idea of why he was demoted. Maybe it was as simple as Stanzi playing better, or maybe there was more to it. The truth might be in what wasn’t said by Johnson-Koulianos and Vandervelde.
Food for thought.