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Hawkeyes spread the blame after loss to Northwestern

BY SCOTT MILLER | NOVEMBER 15, 2010 7:20 AM

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EVANSTON, Ill. — As a fierce wind whipped under the metal bleachers at Ryan Field, quarterback Ricky Stanzi stood in front of a crowd of reporters and took the blame.

All of it.

He stood in front of a Dumpster, of all places, dissecting his lone mistake — his "stupid interception," as he called it. In the fourth quarter as the Hawkeyes were looking to extend a 10-point lead over Northwestern, Stanzi floated a pass to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos down the seam.

He had other options — most notably, Marvin McNutt open underneath — but Stanzi's pass was intercepted at the Wildcats' 5-yard line. Northwestern scored 14 unanswered points and beat Iowa, 21-17.

"We lost because I threw a stupid interception, and they switched the momentum," Stanzi said. "I didn't see the right guy."

In truth, there's plenty of blame to go around. The Hawkeyes acknowledged that much before they boarded buses headed for Iowa City. McNutt, Iowa's junior wide receiver, said, "We as receivers, we're obviously going to put it on ourselves."

And as safety Tyler Sash was peppered with questions from reporters, he was asked about the defense allowing a touchdown on each of its opponents' final drives in the Hawkeyes' three losses — Arizona, Wisconsin, and Northwestern.

He seemed surprised at the question — "I didn't know that," he said — but he naturally placed blame on the defense, saying, "Put that on the defense. There are times in a season like last year where we won some close games. This year, we haven't come out on the winning end of those."

The Blame Game is nothing new for the Hawkeyes.



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After their Sept. 17 loss to Arizona, Stanzi again said he was at fault for throwing a "wobbly" pass that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. In reality, the ball fell right through the receiver's grasp before getting picked off.

Similarly, defensive end Adrian Clayborn said, "It's all on the defense" following Iowa's 31-30 defeat to Wisconsin on Oct. 23. But special-teams gaffes were more prominent in that game than defensive errors.

But offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde chooses to have a different perspective, a different mentality. The Blame Game is useless, he says.

"There's never going to be one play; there's never going to be one person responsible," Vandervelde said. "Every single one of us can look at things on tape that we did wrong, and every single one of us is to blame for this."

Head coach Kirk Ferentz knows this is a futile exercise. He knows it's not going to help the Hawkeyes shift their focus to a showdown with No. 8 Ohio State on Saturday.

Just like he won't publicly grade his players' performances, he refused to blame anyone for the Nov. 13 loss. He wouldn't even acknowledge that the wind played a factor in the game's outcome, even though no team scored when its offense was going into the wind.

He has endured enough hard-to-swallow games in his 12 years in Iowa City to know that's not going to help anything.

Instead, Ferentz predictably credited the Wildcats. They came up with key fourth-quarter plays, he said. They were able to capitalize on Iowa's mistakes, he contended. They were the better 7-3 team Saturday, he insisted.

"We'll give them the credit," he said. "It's a tough loss for us, and we'll go back to work and see what we can do about bouncing back next week."


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