Stanzi sports different look this spring

April 28, 2009
Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe gives instructions to quarterback Ricky Stanzi during the third quarter of the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium on Jan. 1, 2009, in Tampa, Fla. Iowa beat South Carolina, 31-10. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe gives instructions to quarterback Ricky Stanzi during the third quarter of the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium on Jan. 1, 2009, in Tampa, Fla. Iowa beat South Carolina, 31-10. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Within seconds of his team’s final spring football practice, Iowa quarterback Rick Stanzi showed a new side of himself.

Yes, like most veteran Iowa football players, he spouted coached-up cliches about working hard every day, competition and trying to get better. But he had a new look to him as well.

Gone is the flopping hair that Stanzi wore throughout the 2008 season. Stanzi, a current sophomore, now features a trim haircut.

“I think it’s more of a comfort thing,” Stanzi said. “I was saying I was going to grow my hair out for the season. And the next thing you know you flip a switch in your head and you say, ‘Ah, I’ll just cut it. It’s just better this way.'”

In the Hawkeyes’ final spring scrimmage, Stanzi was fairly sharp. Unofficially, he completed 6 of 12 passes during team competition for 91 yards. Stanzi — whether it was intentional or he was smooth through his reads — appeared to throw toward his primary option in all but one of passes.

“Rick certainly improved this spring,” Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe said. “From his leadership ability to making decisions at the line of scrimmage to getting us in to the right types of plays and getting the ball where it’s supposed to go, most importantly as well. So he took advantage of each and every one of the 15 workouts that we had and took his job seriously and really came away a better player.”

Stanzi started 11 games last year. He completed 150 of 254 passes for 1,956 yards and 14 touchdowns. He threw nine interceptions but finished fourth in the Big Ten in passer efficiency.

In the offseason he’s watched tape on multiple NFL quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Cassel and tried to emulate some of their performances. But more importantly, Stanzi has tried to refine his game entering his junior season.

Stanzi ran 56 times last year for a net of 20 yards, which also was his longest run. He often scattered from the pocket if his primary receiver was covered.

“If there’s one thing that I really tried to work on it was probably be comfortable in the pocket,” Stanzi said. “It’s kind of hard to not practice that when you don’t have the line in front of you, and you’re in 7-on-7 drills. You try to soak up each rep that you get when you’ve got a full rush coming on and it’s not always easy. But it’s something, watching film and practicing as much as you can in the offseason, I hope to fix and so I can sit in the pocket and make better decisions and be more sure with my feet.”

When addressing the media, Stanzi now seems more confident when talking about his role. He sticks to the successful concepts of hard work, improvement and consistency. But, according to Coach Kirk Ferentz, he’s added one more successful trait this offseason.

The most growth I’ve seen from him, and this started before we started spring practice, is just in the leadership realm,” Ferentz said. “But that’s what you expect again from a guy who has played and has got the confidence of actually playing on the field and has had some success. So the next step for me, especially at that position, is grow to a leadership role, and I think he’s done that. The players really respect what he does, how he works and his toughness.”

James Vandenberg

James Vandenberg

Stanzi clearly is the starter, but he faces competition from incoming red-shirt freshmen James Vandenberg and John Wienke. Unofficially, Vandenberg completed 8 of 10 passes in the scrimmage for 132 yards.

Vandenberg clearly completed four of five passes to primary receivers, but had the same ratio to second- and third-option receivers as well. Wienke struggled a bit, completing three of seven passes for 34 yards and an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

Stanzi is no stranger to competition at Iowa. About 14 months ago he was locked in with three other quarterbacks, including incumbent Jake Christensen, entering spring practice. Since then, Christensen and Arvell Nelson either have transferred or will transfer and Marvin McNutt was shifted to wide receiver.

“You’re always competing,” Stanzi said. “That’s the only way anyone can get better.”

Iowa quarterbacks Ricky Stanzi (12) and John Wienke (14) workout during the team's practice March 25, 2009 at the Kenyon Football Practice Facility in Iowa City.  (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Iowa quarterbacks Ricky Stanzi (12) and John Wienke (14) workout during the team's practice March 25, 2009 at the Kenyon Football Practice Facility in Iowa City. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

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McNutt has come a long way from third-string QB to leading WR

April 18, 2009
Iowa's Marvin McNutt (7) and Jewel Hampton (27) smile on the filed during the Iowa Football Team's spring practice Saturday, April 18, 2009 in Iowa City, Iowa. Saturday's practice was the last practice of spring football. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Iowa's Marvin McNutt (7) and Jewel Hampton (27) smile on the filed during the Iowa Football Team's spring practice Saturday, April 18, 2009 in Iowa City, Iowa. Saturday's practice was the last practice of spring football. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Iowa wide receiver Marvin McNutt ran 40 yards down the field, one-on-one with safety Jack Swanson and had nothing but air between he and the goal line Saturday afternoon.

Then, the whistle blew. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi was whistled for a sack on a cornerback blitz. A sideline official trotted with McNutt and said, ‘You had hit beat.’

“I was gonna kill him,” McNutt said.

Next play, Iowa called the same play. Same result. On the third consecutive play, McNutt ran a fly down the  left sideline. This time, cornerback Amari Spievey covered McNutt. Stanzi threw it down the field, away from both players. McNutt just nodded his head, smiled and trotted back to the huddle.

McNutt, a red-shirt sophomore this fall, has become the team’s spring practice surprise. After the final spring practice Saturday, McNutt is listed as a starting wide receiver, opposite Trey Stross, and ahead of Derrell Johnson-Koulianos. In Saturday’s scrimmage he caught one pass for 11 yards.

But he’s come a long way from third-round quarterback last fall. McNutt played in three games last year. He completed 1 of 3 passes for 1o yards and an interception. After shifting to wide receiver, he caught one pass for 11 yards.

It wasn’t a difficult decision to shift positions, McNutt said.

“I was very open because I just wanted to be a big part of this team, the Iowa Hawkeyes,” he said. “I wanted to show that I’m here for the Hawkeyes, I’m not here just for Marvin McNutt.

“It wasn’t really any disappointment because I kind of felt like they wanted to use me. I wasn’t looking at it like it like, ‘Oh, man, I’m not a quarterback anymore.’ They tried to get me involved in the program.”

 At St. Louis’ Hazelwood Central High School, he was a first-team all-stater quarterback. He threw for 3,308 yards and 31 touchdowns in his career. He also ran for 337 yards and eight touchdowns.

He was an all-around athlete, earning all-state honors in basketball and baseball as well. It was a tough decision to commit to one sport when he picked Iowa. 

“It really was,” he said. “Even when they asked me here, right before I came, would I want to try and play basketball. And my decision coming out of high school was, ‘Do I play more sports or do I just want to focus on one?’ And I just chose to focus on one in the beginning.”

McNutt provides a big target, standing 6 feet, 4 inches, and weighing 210 pounds. McNutt said that gives him an advantage over smaller cornerbacks. He’s also earned the respect of his teammates this spring, such as former competitor and starting quarterback Rick Stanzi.

“Hat’s off to Marv,” Stanzi said. “He’s done a great job of going and getting the football. He’s a big body, he’s a big target and he’s really worked on his speed this whole offseason and it showed with his play throughout the spring.

“He’s been really smart guy in the offense, it helps that he knew what was going on from the quarterback standpoint so when he goes out there to receiver it’s a lot easier for him.He’s showed a lot this spring, and we’re excited for the season for him.”


Ferentz on Jewel Hampton’s injury status, position switches and d-tackle

April 14, 2009
Iowa running back Jewel Hampton escapes Minnesota's Kyle Theret to dive into the end zone for a touchdown in the fourth quarter at the Metrodome in Minneapolis on Nov. 22 2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Iowa running back Jewel Hampton escapes Minnesota's Kyle Theret to dive into the end zone for a touchdown in the fourth quarter at the Metrodome in Minneapolis on Nov. 22 2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First-team running back Jewel Hampton has suffered a couple of minor injuries this spring, but nothing to hinder the incoming sophomore starter.

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said Hampton “suffered an injury Saturday” but should return to practice by late this week.

“He went into spring with a little bit of a hamstring pull, and it was just a strain, which was good,” Ferentz said today in a teleconference with Big Ten football coaches. “So he missed his work a the front end.

“He had a near-miss on Saturday but he’s going to be fine. I’m not sure if he’ll practice on Wednesday; that’s kind of iffy but we expect back end of the week so he’s doing a good job.”

Hampton played in all 13 games and rushed for 463 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Hampton (5-foot-9, 210 pounds) competes with junior Paki O’Meara and red-shirt freshman Jeff Brinson to replace All-American Shonn Greene.

Ferentz did say it was almost impossible to replace Greene, who rushed for 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns last year. Greene was a consensus All-American and was named the Doak Walker Award winner as the nation’s best college running back. He likely will be selected in the second or third round in next week’s NFL draft.

“We don’t expect to replace Shonn,” Ferentz said. “It would kind of like replacing a guy like (Indianapolis Colts safety) Bob Sanders or (Indianapolis Colts tight end) Dallas Clark or for that matter, (Mitch) King and (Matt) Kroul. Guys that have had tremendous careers here and great production, and Shonn just had extraordinary production a year ago.

“So we don’t expect any one person to fill that void but we’ve got a capable group back there. At the end of the day, by the end of the season we should be able to have guys play well at that position. And I think you’ll probably see several guys contribute as opposed to Shonn being the featured a guy a year ago.”

—–

Here’s a complete transcription of Ferentz’s teleconference with reporters earlier today:

ON RUNNING BACKS
The way we finished the season, we finished with Jewel Hampton as our second-team guy. He moves up a line. We’ve got Paki O’Meara, who has done a good job the past year to continue to improve, and he’d be our second-team guy and Jeff Brinson, a young man we red-shirted a year ago, he’d be our No. 3 man. So those are the three guys that have gotten the most extensive work this spring.

ON REPLACING SHONN GREENE
We don’t expect to replace Shonn. It would kind of like replacing a guy like Bob Sanders or Dallas Clark or for that matter, (Mitch) King and (Matt) Kroul. Guys that have had tremendous careers here and great production, and Shonn just had extraordinary production a year ago. So we don’t expect any one person to fill that void but we’ve got a capable group back there. At the end of the day, by the end of the season we should be able to have guys play well at that position. And I think you’ll probably see several guys contribute as opposed to Shonn being the featured a guy a year ago.

ON OPENING THE BIG TEN SCHEDULE AT PENN STATE
I’ll make this prediction: Playing Penn State next year or 10 years from now will be tough. Playing there is tough and that’s pretty predictable. It’s not 100 percent but it’s probably over 90 that we open on the road. That’s our trademark. However the computer shakes out, we always seem to open up on the road, a high percentage of road games. The good news is after that game we’ll have four on the road and three at home.
It will be a tough challenge. Hopefully we’ll be playing good football.

ON JEWEL HAMPTON’S HEALTH
Jewel, he is … he suffered an injury Saturday. Actually he went into spring with a little bit of a hamstring pull ,and it was just a strain, which was good so he missed his work at the front end. He had a near-miss on Saturday, but he’s going to be fine. I’m not sure if he’ll practice on Wednesday; that’s kind of iffy but we expect back end of the week so he’s doing a good job.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE UPDATE
As far as the defensive tackle position, it’s really a scenario like I described with the running back position. I think we’re seeing some good things out of the guys who are practicing right now, most notably Karl Klug, Mike Daniels and Steve Bigach and then also when Cody Hundertmark gets back, he’s one of six guys sitting out coming off of surgery, we expect him to go, too. So probably the combination of those four players right there all of those guys will probably be rotating in and out. Just like Shonn went the distance for us at running back, King and Kroul have done the same thing for us. I think probably next year what we’re looking at is playing all four of those guys, I’m not sure in what roles, all those guys being involved. And Travis Meade, we haven’t made many position changes, but Travis jumped over there and did some good things this spring, too. So I think it’s going to be defensive tackle-by-committee if you will, but I think we will be fine.

WHO IS CATCHING KIRK’S EYE?
I told you it’s always fun to see who’s improving, and two guys I mentioned right off the top, and I don’t think either of them are going to make headlines, I don’t see either of them starting next year, but Broderick Binns was a guy who was really improving during the course of the last season and really seemed to kind of caught my eye from our bye week on last year in October. He’s a backup defensive end, but he’s a young player who’s really making strides. If I was going to single out a guy on the offensive side I’d say Adam Gettis, who’s a young offensive lineman. I think he was 220 pounds or 225 pounds coming out of high school, and he’s had a great spring. I don’t foresee him starting next year but I think his future looks really bright. If I was to pick two guys who have emerged, it would be those. Again, I don’t think either will catch headlines because they’re both linemen, they aren’t really projected to start, but they’ve done a nice job. I think we’re seeing some progress as we look around. It just hasn’t been maybe as consistent as you hope.

ON QB RICK STANZI’S IMPROVEMENT, TEAM LEADERS AND DACE RICHARDSON
I think he’s just like you hope every player coming out his third year. You hope to see a little bit more maturity and you hope to see a little bit better work habits and those types of things. Not that he was ever lacking, and part of being a college football player is just being and accepting responsibility, and we’re seeing that. I think if we’re really, if I was to pick two guys out, that have grown as leaders, I think Rick would be one of I would identify and I think Pat Angerer the same way. And I describe that a year ago, they both were just trying to get to the field and they both got to the field in the fall and they both played pretty well and had some success and with that. Now they’re able to put their hands around and add responsibility of being leaders and that’s really pleasing, too. Talking about guys who have grown or improved, the other guy I’d throw in there is Dace Richardson. Knock on wood, we’ll reserve judgment on that, but he’s out practicing now. I think he missed the first two workouts, he’s got class conflict on Wednesdays so we’ve missed a couple there, but he’s been able to practice this spring and he looks like a very rusty football player, but he’s really happy and I think he’s just very excited to be back on the field. We’re excited about that, too.

RESTORING THE OFFENSIVE LINE’S TRADITION?
I don’t have any problem with the group that we had in 2007 other than they were young. We were like that back in … I’m like pulling out ancient history, you probably weren’t even born then, but we went through the same thing in 84. We enjoyed 83, we had a veteran group and we had a dumb-crap line coach back then we had seven seniors on our two-deep so 83 was a lot of fun. 84 was a lot of growing paints. I think that was kind of similar to what we went through in 2007. This group has worked hard; we have no idea what our starting lineup is going to be right now. But we’ve got a group that’s going to be representative and we’re just a little bit more mature and little further along physically and mentally than we were in 2007. That was nobody’s fault; it’s just that we were young, that’s all. And we paid for it a little bit, but we’re a little bit more veteran now and that’s a good thing.

ON BRYAN BULAGA
He’s a good guy to coach. He’s pretty good physically and he’s got a great attitude so we’re just thrilled he’s on our football team. A guy who works hard, like he does and has an attitude like he does, it’s a contagious thing. He takes care of his business, but he also makes other guys better and that’s … there’s nothing wrong with good players and that’s what good players do. They not only play well, but they make other guys better and Bryan certainly fits that bill.