IOWA CITY — Go way back to the few weeks before the Hawkeyes opened camp in August. Ricky Stanzi went from a mover on the depth chart to a quarterback with an injured throwing shoulder.
Stanzi, a sophomore, fought through the injury and eventually won the starting job and helped the Hawkeyes (8-4) into the Outback Bowl against South Carolina (7-5). The shoulder was no small thing. It didn’t impair, but Stanzi is still sort of dealing with it.
The injury kept Stanzi out of the weightroom for an extended period, causing him to lose approximately 15 pounds off his 6-foot-4 frame. Stanzi is listed at 225 in the bowl media guide, but he’s played the season under that.
“I’d like to put the weight back on that I lost since the shoulder injury,” said Stanzi, who finished the regular season with a 58.3 completion percentage and a 135.26 pass efficiency. “I’d like to be at least 20 pounds heavier. I think that would help my physical game out, taking the hits and with running the ball and being able to get more yards.”
He doesn’t need surgery, saying “it’s pretty much back to 100 percent now,” but a bone does still stick out because of the injury. No pain, though, he said.
“Rick had the shoulder injury and that held him back a little bit,” offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe said. “He caught up a lot faster than I envisioned. He hurt his throwing shoulder. He came back extremely, extremely fast and our trainers did a great job with him.”
Running back Shonn Greene, the reigning Doak Walker Award winner, has shown everything a running back needs for success. You’ve seen the speed, power and elusiveness. What’s less apparent is the vision.
Greene, who set Iowa’s season record with 1,729 yards this year, showed the ability to see the field as few backs can, O’Keefe said.
“The one thing that makes him different, to me, is great patience and he sees things extremely well,” O’Keefe said. “There have been a lot of studies on the run game in football, what does the running back actually see? Most of them, all they react to is the opposite color they’re playing against.”
Greene can see and tell coaches what shapes a run. Whether it’s a blocker or defender winning a battle and allowing to take a certain path.
“Somebody (an O-lineman) might not have reached a guy like he thought he could, so he’ll cut it back,” O’Keefe said. “He’ll tell you exactly what the lineman did and what the defender did.”
In film sessions, what Greene said on the sideline usually turns out to be correct.
“In Shonn’s case, I think it’s 99.9 percent of the time he’s right,” O’Keefe said. “He reads it really well.”
That kind of vision is uncommon, O’Keefe said.
“They don’t all see it with that detail,” he said. “It’s pretty impressive.”
Iowa had a pair of true freshmen redshirt at quarterback this season, James Vandenberg and John Wienke. With the status of junior Jake Christensen unknown for ‘09, one of these two could end up at No. 2 and pushing Stanzi this spring.
O’Keefe said both players made uncommon strides for freshmen QBs moving to college and learning a new offense.
“They’re sharp guys, a lot of ability,” O’Keefe said. “They worked extremely hard to learn the offense and probably pushed themselves a little farther than most of the guys have as true freshmen. . . . They’re making a lot of progress.”
Junior offensive lineman Andy Kuempel, a Linn-Mar graduate, is the only Hawkeye who’s been ruled out for the Outback Bowl, according to Iowa sports information. He suffered a shoulder injury against Illinois and hasn’t participated since.
Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker on South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, “I think when he goes golfing and hits the ball in the trap, he goes in and draws plays in the sand. He’s got all kinds of gadgets and he’s not afraid to use them. He’s a confident guy.”
Parker faced Spurrier offenses when he was defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt (1996-97). They also faced off when Spurrier was the offensive coordinator at Duke and Parker was D-coordinator at East Carolina in 1981.