Posts Tagged ‘Ricky Stanzi’

What we learned Saturday

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Things we learned in Iowa’s 45-0 victory over Ball State:

– The Hawkeyes’ running back depth isn’t nearly as tenuous as we might have thought. Redshirt freshman Brad Rogers and true freshman Marcus Coker combined for 126 yards rushing in the last quarter-and-a-half. While they aren’t as polished or as experienced as starter Adam Robinson, they both offer a power running style that could be effective as a change of pace to A-Rob.
– The kicking job may be less secure now than it was when the season began. Sophomore Trent Mossbrucker was replaced on field goals and extra points by true freshman Michael Meyer, who hit a 25-yard field goal (Iowa’s first of the season) but also missed a 37-yarder. There still is no word about the status of Daniel Murray, who was the kicker all of last season.
– The offensive line isn’t nearly as bad as it looked last week in a 34-27 loss to Arizona. Then again, it probably isn’t quite as good it looked at times Saturday. The line definitely has potential, but it remains a work in progress.
– Mike Daniels may be the surprise player of the entire season for the Hawkeyes so far. The junior defensive tackle was unstoppable Saturday, recording four tackles for losses and Iowa’s only sack of the day. While Adrian Clayborn and Karl Klug have had fairly quiet starts to the season, Mike Diesel has become someone future opponents will need to deal with.
– Ricky Stanzi clearly is a better player than he was a year ago. Last season he ran hot and cold, even against lesser opponents. He’s been almost continuously hot in the first 16 quarters of this season.
– Ball State probably isn’t going to win many games in the Mid-American Conference. The Cardinals use a lot of different running backs, receivers and quarterbacks but none of them looked very good. This team is going to struggle to score many points even in its own league.

This week’s pick: Iowa 45-7

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Ball State coach Stan Parrish didn’t want to play Iowa to begin with. And he certainly didn’t want to play the Hawkeyes the week after they suffered their first loss, on the road, in semi-excruciating fashion.

All of that adds up to a tough day for the Cardinals on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. Every week people ask for a predicted score. This week, we’ll say 45-7. It probably will be something like 31-0 at halftime and 45-0 in the fourth quarter before Ball State scores one of those meaningless consolation touchdowns.

I don’t think Ball State is the worst team in the Mid-American Conference – a home loss to Liberty University notwithstanding – but the Cardinals aren’t an upper-echelon MAC team either. Chances are, with the Hawkeyes looking to vent some frustrations, no MAC team would have much chance.

Things I think we’ll see:

– About 300 yard passing for Ricky Stanzi. With Adam Robinson now the only healthy, experienced running back, I don’t think we’ll see him carry the ball 25 times. The Hawkeyes will throw.

– Around 8 to 10 carries for freshman running back Marcus Coker, who doesn’t really know the playbook yet but who will get a chance to show what he can do in mop-up time.

– At least three Ball State turnovers, maybe more. Freshman quarterback Keith Wenning started at Purdue last week, but he’ll face an even more intimidating atmosphere this week.

– A little more extensive playing time for such players as C.J. Fiedorowicz, James Morris and Keenan Davis. We might even get to see them throw a pass in Fiedorowicz’s direction.

A look at the quarterbacks

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Projected starter – Ricky Stanzi (6-4, 230, sr.)

Top reserves – James Vandenberg (6-3, 212, so.), John Wienke (6-5, 220, so.)

Futures – A.J. Derby (6-4, 225, fr.), Wyatt Suess (6-2, 200, fr.)

Stanzi’s touchdown-to-interception ratio isn’t going to land him any All-Big Ten votes, but this one statistic looks pretty good: He is 18-4 as a starter over the past two seasons. The Hawkeyes were 9-0 with him at the controls last season when he went down in a heap in the end zone against Northwestern. His 2009 season was marked by moments of electric efficiency punctuated by moments of amazing ineptness. Four of his Big Ten-leading 15 interceptions were returned for touchdowns, but his leadership qualities are unquestioned. He spent the off-season studying the interceptions and analyzing why they happened. Don’t be shocked if he is immensely improved this fall.

Vandenberg looked lost after replacing Stanzi in the Northwestern game, then staked his claim to the job for the future by nearly engineering an upset of Ohio State on the road the following week. Kirk Ferentz said Wienke may have been the most improved player on the team in spring drills so he may yet challenge Vandenberg for the backup job.

Derby was regarded by many as the top recruit in the state of Iowa last season, but there already are rumblings that his future may lie at some other position. But at the Kids Day scrimmage on Aug. 14, he looked to have as strong an arm as any quarterback on the team. Some of us fully expect him to remain at quarterback for the duration of his career.

Gearing up again

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

It’s been a long, relatively quiet summer – for everyone except maybe Broderick Binns, Jewel Hampton and Jordan Bernstine – but things are about to start gearing up again. The Big Ten will hold its football media day this week, the Iowa resumes practice later in the week and the Hawkeyes will hold their own media day on Friday.

The Big Ten media day always brings little bits of information, mixed with lots of posturing and happy talk from the coaches. Each coach will have 15 minutes in a massive group interview with the media on Monday, then reporters have a chance to speak to the coaches and three players from each team in a one-on-one setting on Tuesday morning. Iowa’s three players in attendance will be Ricky Stanzi, Adrian Clayborn and Karl Klug.

The big topic of discussion Monday figures to be the expansion of the Big Ten – commissioner Jim Delany also will get 15 minutes at the podium – and I would think Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz will have some information on what sort of punishments will be levied against Binns, Hampton and Bernstine, all of whom had brushes with the law during the summer.

We will have coverage of Monday’s activities in a live blog at and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will have updates throughout the week from both the Big Ten and Hawkeyes media days.

Depth for fall may be better than ever

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Iowa may or may not have one of its best football teams ever next fall.

One thing that does seem certain: It will be one of the deepest teams it has had.

The Hawkeyes will be pretty well insulated against injuries at almost every position except pos-sibly the offensive line and safety. Everywhere else, there are pretty good players waiting in the wings in case the starter goes down.

A look at the Hawkeyes by position following spring drills:

Quarterback: Ricky Stanzi is going into his third season as the starter and should be less turn-over-prone. That was a major point of emphasis in the spring. James Vandenberg showed last sea-son that he can be a capable backup and you get the feeling southpaw John Wienke gained ground on Vandenberg in the spring. The coaches said he made a major step up and you could see it in the spring scrimmage. Wienke looked crisper and more accurate than Vandenberg that day.

Running back: If Jewel Hampton, Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher all are healthy, this is going to be very interesting. Robinson may have a slight edge in some of the little things like pick-ing up the blitz, but the other two probably are more elusive and have a bigger upside. It’s almost guaranteed that one of them will get hurt anyway. If more than one gets hurt, I still think there is a chance freshman Marcus Coker could be a factor right away.

Fullback: Senior Brett Morse is solid and there’s not a ton of drop-off to junior Wade Leppert. This isn’t an every-down position anyway.

Wide receiver: Marvin McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos have a chance to be the Hawk-eyes’ best receiver tandem since … well, maybe ever. Colin Sandeman and Paul Chaney are pretty good, too. If Keenan Davis improves as much as the coaches hope and Jordan Cotton continues to progress and 6-foot-6 Don Nordmann is as good as he looked in the spring scrimmage, they’re loaded.

Tight end: Don’t be surprised if Allen Reisner duplicates the statistical numbers Tony Moeaki provided last year although he’s probably not going to be as good a blocker. Brad Herman and Jonathan Gimm apparently made strides as the backups this spring but they still might have trou-ble holding off high school All-American C.J. Fiedorowicz, who should be game-ready when he arrives.

Offensive line: There is good depth at center, where James Ferentz and Josh Koeppel are bat-tling for the starting job, but this is one place the depth is a bit thin. There are a lot of big bodies behind Riley Reiff, Julian Vandervelde, Markus Zusevics and Adam Gettis but apparently no one who is ready to play with any sort of consistency. Coach Kirk Ferentz said converted defensive lineman Cody Hundertmark is the closest to being ready. If no one steps forward in the fall, there may be an opportunity for Ohio high school star Andrew Donnal to see playing time as a true freshman.

Defensive line: The Hawkeyes may be deeper than ever here. All four starters – Adrian Clay-born, Karl Klug, Christian Ballard and Broderick Binns – return intact with Clayborn and appar-ently Klug primed for starring roles. And some of us have felt for some time that Ballard ranks among the most underrated players on this team. Backup tackle Mike Daniels is good enough to start for half the teams in the Big Ten and young ends LeBron Daniel and Dominic Alvis have emerged as potential stars of the future. Pencil in Daniels and Daniel as certain starters for 2011.

: This is another area where the competition has been fierce. Jeremiha Hunter is a third-year starter and Jeff Tarpinian and Tyler Nielsen have emerged as the starters at the other two spots, but Bruce Davis and Troy Johnson are still pushing. Even long-time walk-on Ross Peter-sen looked good in the spring scrimmage. You’ll still see some true freshman play here in the fall, though, as the Hawkeyes brace for the future. Hunter, Tarpinian, Johnson and Petersen are seniors and Davis and Nielsen are juniors.

Cornerback: Shaun Prater is solidly entrenched on one side and sophomore Micah Hyde may be a future star on the other side. Jordan Bernstine, projected to start ahead of Prater last fall before breaking his ankle, may have a hard time finding playing time but he, Greg Castillo and William Lowe provide quality depth.

Safety: Tyler Sash and Brett Greenwood – known to some of us as Sashwood – are one of the best tandems in the country but it’s hard to even guess at who the backups are at this point. Walk-ons Kyle Steinbrecher and Tom Donatell ran with the No. 1 unit in the spring scrimmage, apparently moving ahead of two scholarship players, Jack Swanson and Nick Nielsen, in the final week of drills. All those players have good size and Nielsen had two interceptions last Saturday. The depth isn’t necessarily bad, just unproven.

Kicker: Daniel Murray is the returning starter, but Ferentz has made it clear he wasn’t com-pletely satisfied with the job he did. Trent Mossbrucker, who redshirted last season after being the kicker for much of 2008, has at least an shot at winning the job.

Punter: Another place where the depth isn’t great behind four-year regular Ryan Donahue. But how often does your punter get hurt anyway?

Pick six usually means defeat

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

This might be the most amazing thing about the first half of Iowa’s football season: In three of the past four games, the opposing team has returned an interception for a touchdown and the Hawkeyes have somehow managed to win all three of those games.

A pick six is almost always a recipe for defeat. When the opposing defense not only forces a turnover, but is able to turn it into immediate points, it’s a very, very difficult thing for a team to overcome, both physically and emotionally. It’s a testament to the resiliency of this Iowa team that it has overcome those type of setbacks.

In the first 10 years of the Kirk Ferentz era at Iowa, a quarterback threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown only nine times (five of those by Drew Tate). Iowa went 3-6 in those games. The Hawkeyes were 4-11 in games in which the opposing team scored any kind of defensive or special teams touchdown, whether it be via interception, fumble, kick return, blocked punt, etc.

For the Hawkeyes to go 3-0 in such games this season is pretty astounding.

By the way, the only other quarterbacks besides Tate and Ricky Stanzi to throw a pick six in the Ferentz era are Jon Beutjer, Nathan Chandler, Kyle McCann and Scott Mullen. Each of them had just one. That’s right, Jake Christensen never did it. Not even once.

 A list of the defensive TDs scored by Iowa opponents in the Ferentz years:

 2009: Arizona, Terevin Wade interception (W); Arkansas State, DeMario Davis interception (W); Michigan, Donavan Warren interception (W)

2008: Illinois, Dere Hicks fumble (L)

2007: None

2006: None

2005: Iowa State, LaMarcus Hicks interception (L); Minnesota, John Shevlin interception (W); Florida, V.Brown interception and T.McCollum blocked punt (L)

2004: Michigan, Grant Mason interception (L); Kent State, J.Williams interception (W)

2003: Ohio State, Donte Whitner blocked punt and  Michael Jenkins punt return (L); Penn State, Y.Yisrael interception (W)

2002: None

2001: Penn State, L.Johnson blocked punt (W); Purdue, Woodyard interception (L); Michigan State, Haywood kickoff return (L); Michigan, Manning blocked punt (L)

2000: Nebraska, Watchorn interception (L); Illinois, Long interception (L)

1999: Michigan State, Henry punt return (L)

Vandenberg-Wienke battle bears watching

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

One of the most intriguing battles for the Hawkeyes in fall camp won’t be for a starting job. It will be the head-to-head duel to see who is the backup quarterback behind Ricky Stanzi.

Redshirt freshmen James Vandenberg and John Wienke are – by all accounts – very comparable in ability, intellect and temperament and also have become good friends. Any time coach Kirk Ferentz or offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe or Stanzi is asked about the two youngsters, they’re very careful to point out how equal they are.

Based on the little bit we saw in the spring scrimmage, which was closed to the general public, Vandenberg looked a little smoother and a little more accurate throwing the ball. But that was just one day. Whatever happens in workouts the next three weeks will decide this thing.

The Hawkeyes are only carrying three quarterbacks on the roster – a few less than most college teams – but Ferentz said he’s not really concerned about that. It just means those three may get more reps in practice each day.

It no doubt helps that Marvin McNutt, who is battling for a starting receiver job, spent the first two years of his Iowa career at quarterback. He would be available to move back behind center on an emergency basis should there be multiple injuries at QB.

So much for a QB controversy

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Word out of Iowa City is that sophomore backup quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who in the spring appeared to be pushing incumbent starter Jake Christensen for the job, is out with a shoulder injury. Apparently, Stanzi was hurt during drills Friday morning. Rumors on the Rivals message boards say he is out six to eight weeks. I couldn’t confirm that, but I did confirm that he left the football complex with his arm in a sling.

This is bad news for the Hawkeyes.

Stanzi probably wasn’t going to be the starter when Maine comes to town six weeks from Saturday, but he did figure to challenge Christensen during camp. If Stanzi is in fact out six to eight weeks, Christensen will be pushed only by redshirt freshman Marvin McNutt and incoming freshmen John Wienke and James Vandenberg. That’s not enough. After a sub-par sophomore season during which Christensen took every meaningful Iowa snap, he needs all the competition he can get as he prepares for 2008.

I have no doubt Christensen will be the starter against Maine — I had little doubt before learning of Stanzi’s injury. But competition in camp would have helped him be a better quarterback to start the season. And it would have been good for the Hawkeyes to build some depth at the position — some much-needed depth. If Stanzi were to play, say, the fourth quarter of each of Iowa’s first two games, against Maine and Florida International, both of which figure to be lopsided wins, that would have, at the least, given Stanzi some valuable game experience, and, if he played well, given the coaching staff confidence to go to him if Christensen struggles as he did in 2007. They had no confidence in either Stanzi or Arvell Nelson last year and had no choice but to stick with Jake through thick and thin.

Now, let’s say Stanzi is out six to eight weeks — again, I can’t confirm that. Best-case scenario, he misses all of training camp and returns as a distant backup before the opener, and probably doesn’t see much time. Worst-case scenario, he returns before the Sept. 13 matchup with Iowa State, probably as the third-string quarterback behind McNutt, Wienke or Vandenberg, whichever one plays mop-up dutie against Maine and Florida International. This, right here, could be the defining juncture of Stanzi’s career at Iowa. Right when he’s in position to compete for playing time, even the starting job, he could be pushed to the back of the line.

Again, all we know right now is that Stanzi hurt his shoulder and he left Friday with his arm in a sling. That’s it, but that certainly isn’t a good sign for Stanzi or the Hawkeyes as they sit just a few short weeks from opening camp.