Ricky Stanzi has two words for when his Iowa quarterback successor runs around the backfield, frantically looking for an open receiver as he is about to be smeared by a sack-seeking defender.
That’s who Stanzi figures James Vandenberg, or whomever replaces him as the Hawkeyes’ starter in the Sept. 3 opener against Tennessee Tech, should look for at all times during football games this fall.
“He’s a pro,” said Stanzi, who will be in that category after the April 28-30 NFL Draft. “Marvin could have come out this year. He’s that good.”
McNutt, a senior in the fall, isn’t participating in spring workouts after undergoing shoulder surgery. That’s not a big deal after leading the Hawkeyes last season with 53 catches for 861 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s six touchdown receptions shy of the Iowa career record.
“He’ll be just fine when they get going again, for real, in the fall,” Stanzi said. “Marv — you don’t have to worry about him.”
Stanzi, one of at least nine Hawkeyes expected to be selected in the seven-round draft, says Iowa fans don’t have to worry about the position he owned three seasons, either, when it comes to pitch-and-catch with McNutt.
“He can make all the throws,” Stanzi said of Vandenberg. “If there was a game today — he’d do great.”
Vandenberg entered spring practice as Stanzi’s heir, ahead of John Wienke on the depth chart, after completing 47-of-95 passes for 515 yards and three touchdowns the past two seasons. This includes two starts as a freshman in 2009 — an overtime loss at Ohio State, and a victory against Minnesota.
“How he did in that Ohio State game — on the road — should tell people how good he can be,” Stanzi said. “I remember that it took me a while to adjust to the speed of the game, but (Vandenberg) won’t have any problem with that because he’s played.
“It won’t be nearly as big of an adjustment for him because he’s already been out there.”
Like Stanzi, Vandenberg is a regular in the film room.
“He always watches tape,” Stanzi said. “He’s a smart guy — on the field and off the field.”
Class is so important to Vandenberg that he was late to the first day of spring practice last Wednesday. He had an organic chemistry exam.
“I used to walk by organic chemistry, Room 303,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Walked right by it to get a cup of coffee.”
Vandenberg starts this season with lower fan expectations than some had for the team Stanzi led in 2010.
“I’m sure some people had us winning the national championship,” Stanzi said of spring-summer water cooler chatter.
In recent Iowa history, a lower pre-season ranking projected to a better postseason finish.
The Hawkeyes went 8-5 last season after being the preseason No. 9, and an 11-2 season followed a No. 22 pre-season ranking in 2009.
Iowa won 10 games after starting the 2004 season 19th. In 2002, the Hawkeyes went 11-2 after being not being among the preseason Top 25.
“There’s a big adrenalin rush you get when you’re the underdog,” Stanzi said. “In 2009, no one outside the locker room expected us to do anything, but we won the Orange Bowl. “Guys take that personally.
“You’re playing looser when there aren’t many expectations than you are when everyone expects you to win the national title.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football