Stanzi continues to win


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“Resilient” may not be the word Ricky Stanzi would use to describe himself as a quarterback.

But that just might be the best way to summarize what he has done since becoming the Hawkeyes’ signal-caller last year.

Yes, those who watched the 13th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes edge out a 24-21 win over Arkansas State on Oct. 3 probably have concerns regarding the offense. And Stanzi’s two second-half interceptions — one of which was taken back 75 yards for an Arkansas State touchdown — didn’t produce good vibes inside Kinnick Stadium.

But his 18-of-26 passing performance against the Red Wolves garnered a season-high 296 yards through the air for Iowa. In the process, the Mentor, Ohio native also made three of his best throws this season so far.

All three strikes resulted in Hawkeye touchdowns and played a big part in Stanzi improving his record to 13-3 as the Hawkeyes’ starter.

Iowa’s opening possession ended when Stanzi found senior wideout Trey Stross downfield for a 33-yard touchdown pass that put the Hawkeyes ahead, 7-0.

When the offense got the ball for its second series, Stanzi went to work again. This time, he found sophomore wide receiver Marvin McNutt for his first career touchdown reception on a third-and-11 play.

“It was great for our offense to be a quick strike offense a couple of times there,” Stanzi said. “We’re usually not like that. We usually throw the ball down the field, but we’ve had trouble converting. To be able to do that, was exciting for us. It kind of opens up the playbook for us a little bit.”

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Stanzi’s third touchdown pass came early in the second half, two plays after a Tyler Sash interception. Once again, he threw a deep ball. Once again, he found McNutt.

“He pumped to the other side on the second one, and he just threw a perfect ball,” McNutt said. “I didn’t have to do too much of nothing but catch it.”

Statistically, an eight touchdown to seven interception ratio through five games seems disheartening for a quarterback and typically leads to mediocrity in terms of wins and losses.

But considering the Hawkeyes’ record is now 5-0 after those contests, it’s clear how much Stanzi means not just to the offense but to the entire team.

“We all know that we can count on him to be poised, to keep his composure, to not freak out and start gunning the ball all over the place or break the pocket,” junior offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde said. “He’s going to have the confidence to sit back there and trust everyone else to do their job.

“That gives us a lot of confidence.”

“Resilient” was the word senior linebacker A.J. Edds used to describe Stanzi, saying that resiliency is one of his strongest attributes as a quarterback.

Stanzi doesn’t want anything bad to take place when he steps on the field and isn’t looking to rebound from difficult starts or finishes.

But he’ll accept that description if he continues the good that comes with it, and if the Hawkeyes continue to win like they have every week.

“You don’t really think about it. You just throw it to the side,” Stanzi said. “You’re just, ‘Hey, I made a bad play. What am I going to do about it now? Nothing. So don’t worry about it. Just get back to the next play and do what you can do to make up for that mistake.’ ”

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