April 1, 2009
- 2009 Spring Camp Central
- New and renewal season ticket customers: Purchase yours online!
- Outback Bowl Central
- Iowa and the Big Ten Network
- Iowa Football wallpaper
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Those thinking spring football is nothing more than squeezing back into a helmet or casually completing a few calisthenics before classes end should consider the career of University of Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi.
A year ago Stanzi was nothing more than a dim blip on the Hawkeye quarterback radar. As a redshirt freshman in 2006, he saw action against Syracuse and Purdue, mis-firing on four pass attempts with an interception.
“My main goal last spring was to come in there and compete, try to get better, work on my technique and learn the offense a little more,” Stanzi said. “When (fall) camp came, it was the same thing — just competing and working on all areas. The main focus for me was the mental part of the game. If you don’t have that, it’s hard to bring the physical part to match it.”
Stanzi’s spring performance and off-season work ethic thrust him into a battle for the starting quarterback spot with incumbent Jake Christensen. Stanzi emerged as the front-runner prior to the start of the Big Ten season and went on to play all 13 games (with 11 starts). He passed for 1,956 yards and 14 touchdowns while completing 59.1-percent of his attempts.
“A lot more is expected of you from the coaches,” Stanzi said. “They know you’ve been the starter last year and when you get on the field you’re going to have to show some leadership and be the guy out there that everybody looks up to.”
“No one has a spot on the team, you have to earn it even if you started last year. I still have to go out and earn the spot again this year. We’re a team that’s trying to get better and the best way to get better is to compete. If you can compete and get better, it’s going to build a better attitude and it’s going to build a better team.”
Stanzi understands that there is no job security in the spring, but he has always flourished through competition.
“No one has a spot on the team, you have to earn it even if you started last year,” he said. “I still have to go out and earn the spot again this year. We’re a team that’s trying to get better and the best way to get better is to compete. If you can compete and get better, it’s going to build a better attitude and it’s going to build a better team.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz called Stanzi the most experienced quarterback in camp and he wants the junior from Mentor, Ohio, to fine-tune his play while battling Vandenberg and Wienke.
“Clearly (Stanzi’s) the most experienced guy and clearly did a lot of good things last year,” Ferentz said. “Last year at this time he wasn’t prominent in my thoughts and that’s the neat thing about college football. A year ago he was down the depth chart a little bit. Rick is clearly the favorite, but we’re hoping both these young guys can press him and make him better. That’s what this is all about — good competition out there. Good players expect that. Good players expect competition, like it and thrive on it. I’m hoping he can continue to refine his play.”
Iowa returns 16 starters from a team that went 9-4 last season, with four consecutive victories and a 21-point decision over South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. Stanzi feels the momentum during spring drills, but also feels a void from those who have departed.
“There’s momentum, but the big thing you have to realize is that a lot of guys that helped contribute to that winning streak aren’t here now and they were a lot of the leadership that we had,” he said. “We have to find guys who are going to be leaders on this team and spring ball is a good way to initiate that. It’s a good time to build leadership within the team and get the camaraderie going.”
Iowa compiled a record of 8-3 with Stanzi as the starter. The Hawkeyes won six of the final seven games, including victories against bowl-bound Wisconsin, Penn State, Minnesota and South Carolina. During a 55-0 win at Minnesota, Stanzi completed 15 of 28 passes for 255 and three touchdowns.
The Hawkeyes will participate in the sixth of 15 practices Friday afternoon. The final day of spring practice is Saturday, April 18, and Iowa’s season-opener will be Saturday, Sept. 5, against Northern Iowa.