Three cool things:
1. I’m going to get in trouble for the lede. I did then and I will again now. Totally regret it. Then, I thought I was being funny. Now, I see it as something a troglodyte would think and write.
I could’ve changed it for this exercise, but you have to own your stupidity and learn from it. Lesson learned.
2. OK, back to the storyline. These games were grouped together to illustrate how Kirk Ferentz handles the QB controversies. My observation here is that it’s totally case-by-case. I know that’s an unsatisfying answer, but Kyle McCann-Brad Banks was a different battle than Ricky Stanzi-Jake Christensen and C.J. Beathard-Jake Rudock. Different skill sets. Different ways to fit into the offense.
You knew it was over for Christensen after this. Yes, Ferentz had the “indigestion” quote following the Pitt game a few weeks later, which became Christensen’s last stand (even though he did win the 2008 ISU game in relief).
3. And the boos.
This is usually where I get on my high horse and tell you not to boo the players. In this setting, you paid the money for the tickets, do whatever you want.
I had a great interview once with James Morris about how the public accepts performance. The Solon native took a lot of heat early in his career because he was elevated quickly to a starting role due to injury. The early years were tough. Linebacker, especially for newbies, is an impossible job to even comprehend. And Morris, everything you’d want in a Hawkeye, took heat.
His thought on the topic was basically you present yourself in a performance setting, you’re going to get reviews. Sometimes, those reviews are going to be immediate and negative. You have to learn to live with that.
I think this program does a good job with that. I think you guys save your most visceral reactions for when they are warranted. In this particular setting, it was over the top, but you also watched Christensen struggle in 2007 and you weren’t going down that road again.
The coaches saw it, too. They left the Pitt game on the table and then got this right.
Quote: We’re going to have some Derrell Johnson-Koulianos in this. He might be on the dead list for some yearbooks, not in this one.
DJK’s answer to Iowa’s QB controversy?
Note: Tracking Shonn Greene’s 2008: He had a career-high 130 yards in this one. That ended up lasting two games. He had 147 yards in the loss at Pitt two games later, outrushing a pretty good RB for Pitt named LeSean McCoy who clocked in for 78 yards against the Hawkeyes.
Why No. 131? — Florida International. I love the Group of Five. I would have season tickets for a Group of Five program around here if I had a different job, of course. But this was Florida International in a Big Ten stadium.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2008
IOWA CITY — The only way Ricky Stanzi’s day could’ve gone any better is if he would’ve landed the gorgeous sideline reporter’s phone number.
And who knows? Maybe he did.
“Yes, she’s very pretty,” the Iowa quarterback laughed. “She’s a great reporter.”
After throwing three touchdown passes Saturday in Iowa’s 42-0 victory over Florida International, Stanzi was held on the field for an interview with the Big Ten Network’s Ashley Russell. When he finished, he got a standing ovation from a decent number of the remaining 70,585 fans at Kinnick Stadium.
Junior running back Shonn Greene rushed for a career-high 130 yards and a TD. The Hawkeyes (2-0) punched out 512 yards of offense, their best effort since 546 against Minnesota in 2006. Iowa’s defense didn’t allow a TD for a second straight week, hounded FIU quarterbacks with six sacks and caused three turnovers.
But that’s enough of that. This was Stanzi’s day, no doubt.
Just before Stanzi ran off, the P.A. announced Stanzi was named player of the game. Minutes later, the BTN studio show’s graphic read “Ricky Stanzi solves Iowa QB problem with strong debut.”
As far as first career starts go, this ranks up there with Lou Gehrig and Brett Favre.
“It was exciting,” said Stanzi, who completed 8 of 10 for 162 yards. “I guess there isn’t any other way to draw it up.”
OK, it was Florida International (0-2), one of the youngest and weakest programs in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Probably should hold off on bronzing the statue and retiring the jersey No. 12. Heck, probably should hold off on naming Stanzi the starter against Iowa State (2-0), a real team with real players.
Kirk Ferentz isn’t ready to go there. Don’t expect to get a straight answer from Tuesday’s depth chart, either.
“We’ll have to make a decision who’s going to start at some point, certainly,” said Ferentz, who later added, “Right now I don’t have a strong feeling either way.”
A good number of fans certainly had strong feelings. Quarterback Jake Christensen, whose streak of 13 starts ended Saturday, was roundly booed after throwing an incompletion on his first pass, which came after Stanzi directed Iowa (2-0) to TDs on its first two possessions.
One pass, one incompletion and one big round of boos from an edgy fan base.
“I’m not deaf,” said Christensen, who put more than his share of time in the interview room, answering every question, ducking nothing. “It’s hard when your fans boo. We’re all trying as hard as we can out there. It’s really hard to swallow that, but it’s their choice.”
The boos got Ferentz’s attention, even with the headphones on. It was also noticeable on BTN’s telecast.
“I think that’s unfortunate,” said Ferentz, who believes the boos don’t represent the majority of fans. “I found it really distasteful back in 2001 when (quarterback) Kyle McCann got booed. He certainly didn’t deserve that. We’re talking about guys who are just trying to play well and do a good job for our team.”
Christensen didn’t do anything on the field to lose the job. The junior completed 8 of 12 for 99 yards and a TD. Perhaps the only tip of things to come is that Stanzi didn’t play a down in the second half. With a 35-0 halftime lead, Iowa pulled a lot of starters.
“I think you’re always competing no matter what the deal is,” Christensen said when asked about the possibility of being the backup. “You’re always trying to get better no matter if you’re starter or not.”
Stanzi put on a show in the first half, hitting Derrell Johnson-Koulianos for a 59-yard TD, finding tight end Brandon Myers on a beautifully executed screen for a 23-yard TD and lofting an 8-yard pass over a pair of defenders to wide receiver Colin Sandeman for a TD.
He scrambled five times for 30 yards. On a second-and-12 from Iowa’s 32, the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder shook off defensive lineman Jarvis Penerton, a 6-4, 280-pounder, for an 18-yard gain. On the next play, Stanzi zipped a 38-yard completion to tight end Allen Reisner. Three plays later, he put touch on the 8-yarder to Sandeman.
“For Rick when he comes in the huddle it’s more, ‘Just relax and we’re going to play our game. We’ve been doing this all week, let’s just go out and play,’” Johnson-Koulianos said. “There’s no tension, he’s not yelling. He knows the job you have to do. For (his) first game starting, just poise. He defined it today.”
Offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe told Stanzi on Wednesday that he was the starter. Ferentz explained the decision to Christensen on Wednesday with more dialogue Thursday.
A decision needs to be made. It doesn’t have to be permanent, but it might be closer to that after Saturday. Ferentz still would like to have a clear-cut starter.
There’s absolutely no way coaches could follow Johnson-Koulianos’ suggestion. Not without some sort of crazy mad scientist stuff.