Iowa's Stanzi poised to break Hawkeyes records
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP)
Ricky Stanzi has always been know as a winner. Problem was, at times the best stat on the Iowa quarterback's resume was his team's won-loss record.
This season, Stanzi's been winning games and putting up big numbers, too.
With four Big Ten games and a likely bowl trip left to go, Stanzi is threatening to break a number of school records for No. 15 Iowa (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) while directing one of the nation's most efficient passing attacks.
Stanzi has thrown 19 touchdowns passes, eight shy of the Iowa mark set by Chuck Long in 1985 when he finished second in the Heisman Trophy race, and just two interceptions heading into Saturday's game at Indiana (4-4, 0-4).
Stanzi's 68.5 percent completion rate would also top the record of 67.1 percent Long put up in 1984, and his three touchdown passes in Saturday's 37-6 blowout of previously unbeaten Michigan State made him the third player in school history with at least 50 career TD passes - joining Long and Drew Tate.
Long remains the benchmark for Iowa quarterbacks. But Stanzi has certainly thrown his name into the conversation about the best signal-callers in school history.
Stanzi ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency and is 24-6 as a starter.
''The first two things I think about with Chuck is his toughness, mentally and physically, and then just his preparation,'' said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who was an assistant with the Hawkeyes during Long's career. ''Those are the first two places I'd start with Ricky, too. And leadership. You've got to throw that in there. That's critical. But I think there are a lot of similarities between them.''
Stanzi's vast improvement from last season, when he threw 17 touchdown passes but 15 interceptions, is the biggest reason why Iowa's is averaging 34.1 points per game, nearly 11 points better than last year.
Stanzi isn't just leaning on one or two receivers, either.
The Hawkeyes don't have a single player ranked in the top 10 in the league in receptions. What they do have is a deep and balanced set of skill players that know how to get open and can make plays after the catch.
Senior Derrell Johnson-Koulianos sits tied for the school record with 157 career receptions, and he owns Iowa's mark for career yards receiving with 2,368. He's also caught eight touchdown passes this season.
Junior Marvin McNutt, who was moved to receiver in part because of Stanzi's emergence in 2008, was at his best in the win over Michigan State. McNutt has 28 catches, including an over-the-shoulder, one-handed grab near the sidelines against the Spartans.
Tight end Allen Reisner has taken over for departed star Tony Moeaki and has 28 catches and running back Adam Robinson has developed into a dependable receiver.
Eight Hawkeyes have touchdown catches this season, and five different players have at least 13 receptions.
''Whoever is open, you give them the ball,'' Stanzi said. ''You just have to be ready for the ball at any moment, and those receivers do a great job, backs do a great job, tight ends do an awesome job of that.''
Iowa has always looked to be as balanced as it can, and Robinson's emergence as a durable, do-everything back means the Hawkeyes don't have to throw it 50 times a game to win.
What Iowa really wants to see from its passing game is efficiency, and never was that more evident than in the win over the Spartans. Stanzi threw just 15 passes, but he finished with 11 completions for 190 yards in a decisive win that knocked Michigan State back into a tie for first place in the Big Ten.
Stanzi isn't likely to be invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation despite his stellar season. But his teammates believe he should at least be in that conversation, too.
''Everybody talks about (Jake) Locker and (Andrew) Luck and Cam Newton. I'll put Rick's stats up against any of them,'' Iowa offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde said. ''I'll put Rick as a guy and as a hard worker and as a quarterback up against any of them.''