Posted by: marcmwm | March 12, 2009

Four downs with the QBs

QUICK LOOK BACK: The Jake ChristensenRicky Stanzi battle for the position made for stanzi31interesting theater. Stanzi went from clipboard holder (’07) to nosing his way into real playing time (Maine) to starter (Florida International) to pulled starter (Iowa State) to the final answer. Christensen’s last play that mattered came against ISU. He has announced he is transferring but is still attending classes for a May graduation from the UI. It’ll be up to the NCAA if he’s eligible to transfer to another FBS school.


Stanzi is a somewhat proven commodity. He made his mistakes, but he always had a sturdy running game and a great defense to hold him up. But the point here is he know has 11 starts and seven wins on his resume.

No. 2? This is where Christensen’s departure stings. The Hawkeyes go from a former starter to a pair of unproven redshirt freshmen who’ve never played a snap.

James Vandenberg, 6-3 and 195, has an Internet following built on nuggets leaked out of practice. I’ve heard good things, but I haven’t seen anything with my eyes, so I don’t know. John Wienke, 6-5 and 225, supposedly has the bigger arm. Again, I don’t know. They came from smaller high school programs (Keokuk and Tuscola, Ill.) but they also won state titles.

THIRD DOWN — ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Would Kirk Ferentz take Jake Christensen back? I’m just spitballing here, probably shouldn’t have even brought it up. It would bridge the experience gap, but maybe that’s not even an issue. Look where Stanzi was when he earned the keys to the car — he was a redshirt sophomore with more passes to other teams (one) than to his own (zero).

The 2009 recruiting class didn’t include a QB, but Iowa does have at least three offers out already for 2010, including Iowa City High standout A.J. Derby. David Blackwell, the ’08 signee who ended up at Iowa Western, is probably a wideout when/if he ends up at Iowa in 2010.

So, for ’09, it’s Stanzi, Vandenberg and Wienke.

SECOND DOWN — STRENGTHS: Stanzi is a strength. Let’s face it, last season was a personal rollercoaster for the guy. He won the job, whupped Florida International, fell into a turnover miasma and then emerged during a strong finish, including the final drive that lifted Iowa over then-No. 3 Penn State, arguably the biggest win for Iowa in three seasons.

To paraphrase the T-shirt from Black Heart Gold Pants (, Stanzi is the manzi.

FIRST DOWN — THE PLAY: Stanzi is established, but he’s hardly a finished product. He knows that and this quote from after the Outback Bowl tells you a lot about the junior’s personality: “As far as it being my team, I still have a lot of work to do and a lot of respect to earn,” Stanzi said. “That’s where I’m at right now. We had a good season. I’m just going to keep trying to improve. That’s all I can do right now.” I’m interested in seeing what Stanzi does in the post-Shonn Greene, post-Mitch King and Matt Kroul and post-Rob Bruggeman and Seth Olsen. Iowa is losing a lot of what made it 9-4 last season, the heart of the running and stopping the run.

The Starter: Stanzi

Next: Vandenberg/Wienke

Incoming: No one, not this year

Surprise: Stanzi earns all-Big Ten or Vandenberg/Wienke see significant playing time.

Iowa QBs at last year's FanFest, from left, Arvell Nelson (gone), Ricky Stanzi (starter), Golden Girl Diana Reed (terrific arm), Marvin McNutt (wide receiver) and Jake Christensen (transfer).

Iowa QBs at last year's FanFest, from left, Arvell Nelson (gone), Ricky Stanzi (starter), Golden Girl Diana Reed (terrific arm), Marvin McNutt (wide receiver) and Jake Christensen (transfer).



  1. Your photo describes perhaps the undertow that the Iowa program never seems to escape: attrition.

    On the bright side, we’re not as thin at QB as Ohio State, believe it or not.

    Happy Birthday.

  2. P.S. since OSU just recruited as a walk-on an OSU cheerleader who apparently ran a 4.47 (untrained), and who did not play football, perhaps the solution this year is to raise them and add Miss Reed, who clearly complements a great arm with a great pair of … legs.

  3. nice stuff.

    It will be interesting to see how the running game goes next year absent Bruggeman and Olsen and Shonn…I’ve never seen Iowa have such a dominant run game—no one really stopped it.

    Stanzi needs to put on some weight and be prepared to run the ball a few times per game to keep teams honest. The designed runs and scrambles in that Minny game were devastating

  4. Chris Weinke? As funny as it is considering he was playing college football when he as like 45 years old, I think he’s used up all of his years…

  5. LOL, Drew!!! Thanks for the birthday wishes! Great weekend. A lot of fun!

    Logic, yes! Watch the bowl game again. Stanzi ran high and took some nasty shots, including one on the goal line. I think he’ll be in the 220 range next year.

    Play — I changed it. For whatever reason, I have Chris Wienke in my head and it’s not even because of the real Chris Wienke because I’d pretty much forgotten him until you brought him up. When I covered the RoughRiders are few years ago, there was a Northwestern linebacker with the same last name as one of them. I goofed the poor Riders’ first name two or three times. They eventually led me hear about it. Hey, it was my birthday. I’m allowed a senior moment. 🙂

  6. great article…until you mentioned JC coming back. how dare you!

    but still a good article. for future reference, JC is almost as bad to mention in a post as Mr. Hair Gel.

  7. Ouch, Bret!!! Mr. Hair Gel!!! Ouch!!!

    How’s Hair Gel doing in the NIT? Is the NIT going to be renamed in his honor? He’s a real vet of that tourney.

  8. […] Four downs with the QBs. […]

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