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Point/Counterpoint: Should Stanzi or Vandenberg start in the bowl game?

BY DI STAFF | NOVEMBER 17, 2009 7:21 AM

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Ricky Stanzi

Call me Kirk Ferentz, but when the Hawkeyes go bowling, Ricky Stanzi is starting.

All the junior quarterback has done since being named the starter is win. He is 17-4 since getting the starting nod, leading remarkable comeback wins — including a big Outback Bowl win against South Carolina last season.

If one wanted to get picky, one of Stanzi’s four losses came two weekends ago at Northwestern, a game he didn’t get the chance to finish, which is when “Stanzi is the Manzi.”

Also, his four losses were by a combined 19 points, so when fans want to start thinking of replacing him, they might want to think twice — like the number of times he has beaten Penn State.

Before injuring his ankle, Stanzi led Iowa to an unblemished 9-0 start and a No. 4 BCS ranking, both bests in Hawkeye history. Also it’s an unwritten rule in football that you don’t lose a starting job to injury.

Despite redshirt freshman James Vandenberg’s recent success, Stanzi hasn’t lost his gig on account of his performance yet.

The Hawkeyes have gone on record saying they were never out of a game because of Stanzi. Christian Ballard once called Stanzi “one of the greatest leaders he has ever seen.”

Stanzi stands straight in the face of adversity and always manages to give it the cold shoulder. No matter what the situation.

The upset of No. 3 Penn State last year. The 10-0 deficit this season during the “White Out” in State College, Pa.

The last-second 7-yard touchdown toss to Marvin McNutt to beat Michigan State. Completing 92- and 66-yard touchdown passes to overcome a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Indiana.

All from Stanzi.

He’s a Davy O’Brien Award semifinalist alongside Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, Jimmy Clausen, and Tony Pike for good reason.

Does Iowa really want to put the game in the hands of a two-start redshirt rookie?

Don’t get me wrong. If Stanzi isn’t healthy enough to play, I’m confident with Vandenberg running the show. The performance he turned in at the “Horseshoe” should have made believers out of every Hawkeye fan.

But for now, I foresee Stanzi.

— by Patrick Rafferty

James Vandenberg

After a dazzling performance in the “Horseshoe” on Nov. 14, redshirt freshman James Vandenberg should be the starting quarterback for the Hawkeyes’ postseason bowl game.

The signal-caller from Keokuk performed like a skilled veteran against Ohio State, passing for 233 yards and tossing two touchdowns. His ability to throw the football makes me excited to watch him develop as a quarterback in the coming seasons.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving up on Ricky Stanzi — he is still the “Manzi” — nor am I jumping on the Vandenberg bandwagon (the Vand-wagon?).

Even though Vandenberg should start the bowl game, this is not a quarterback controversy.

The Hawkeyes wouldn’t be where they are if not for Stanzi. The junior quarterback has a 17-4 record as the Hawkeyes’ starter and has been a leader for this team.

And Stanzi will still be leader of the Hawkeye offense in the 2010 season, no matter how well Vandenberg plays against Minnesota and in a bowl game.

But that’s why starting Vandenberg benefits both the current and future Hawkeye football squads.

The bowl game should be out of the question for Stanzi because he is coming off ankle surgery. If he isn’t completely healthy, he will be more susceptible to being reinjured.

Maybe it’s the Chicago Cub fan in me making me think ahead to next year and beyond. But Iowa will lose only seven impact seniors from a team that was one win away from the Rose Bowl.

The Hawkeyes are primed for another big run next season. That’s why Ferentz should keep Stanzi on the sidelines for the final two games, so he is healthy and poised to get Iowa a Big Ten championship next season.

By getting the opportunity to start against a formidable opponent in a New Year’s Day bowl game, Vandenberg will gain valuable experience that will greatly help him as he develops as the future starter for Kirk Ferentz’s program.

— by Mitch Smith


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