Three cool things:
1. Ricky Stanzi had four pick-sixes in 2009 and, yet, Iowa won 11 games and beat Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl, with Stanzi throwing an early pick-six.
I think Stanzi’s ability to shake off the bad, along with winning a boatload of football games, endeared him to you guys. OK, maybe that American stuff, too. Yep, you loved that.
Let’s stick with Stanzi and the his relief pitcher/cornerback attitude.
“Last year, my stats were poor, but we had a great team that won a lot,” Stanzi said while the Hawkeyes prepped for the Insight Bowl. “This year, my stats were really good and our team didn’t win as many games.
“What does that mean? I don’t know. Do I care? No. And I’m not really worried about it, either. Our point as a team is to go out there and compete. That’s the real thing.”
There’s more ...
“Football is a crazy game,” Stanzi said. “There are all sorts of ways to win and lose.”
I kind of think that was Stanzi in a paragraph. Yep, threw some picks, but won a lot of games. And, no, I’ve revised my thinking on the “QB wins” stat. I count “win” as a team stat. They have a column for it, it’s the number on the left that sits next to losses, the number on the right.
“You want to play well, you want to have good stats. That’s going to help your team win,” he said. “You don’t want to go out there and lay an egg. At the same time, the main focus isn’t the stats, it’s how you’re competing as a team and how much effort you’re putting in. Are you putting yourself on the line every day and holding yourself accountable?”
Stanzi didn’t give a rip about the numbers. You loved him for that. Well, you did when they won.
“The more you worry about the stats and the outcomes, the more you get tangled up in it,” Stanzi said. “It just kind of pulls you down and doesn’t let you compete the way you want to.”
2. Back to the summer visits (feature story below).
So, I’m following Pat Angerer to Miller Time Bowling in Bettendorf and a pair of black dress socks flew out of the back window.
3. There’s a little bit of “what could’ve been” with this kind of walk through the past.
This is 2009 and tight end Tony Moeaki’s health stayed relatively, well, healthy. I don’t want to get into too much “what could’ve been” because who wants to live there, but I do remember writing a story about who the best athlete was on the 2009 team.
Moeaki was the winner.
It was just a little blurb in his Hawkeye bio. And you sure wouldn’t have guessed it by looking at him.
But Iowa’s 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end was a mean tennis player. Wide receiver Trey Stross let that slip around this time.
“He’s one of the best basketball players on the team,” Stross said. “He’s one of the best tennis players in Illinois. He could pick up any ball in any sport and be good at it, whatever it is.”
Quote: “The mistakes are always evident, that’s just the way it is. He’s a great leader, first of all. He does his homework, he really works at it. It’s hard to shake him out there, at least it’s hard to see when he’s shook. I’m sure inside he’s churning a little bit. He competes and he keeps playing. Quarterbacks have to flush things and keep moving. He’s earned the right to be a leader on this team through his hard work, his play, the things he does off the field. Our players clearly follow him.” — Kirk Ferentz talking about Ricky Stanzi after this one.
Note: With this victory, the Hawkeyes moved to 6-0 for the first time since 1985 and raised their winning streak to 10 games, Iowa’s longest streak since winning 20 games between 1920-23.
At this point, the Hawkeyes had the nation’s second-longest winning streak, behind No. 1 Florida.
Why was 2009 fun? After this one, Iowa had won three games by a grand total of six points.
One more, also after this, Iowa was 14-3 with Stanzi as its starting quarterback.
Why No. 36? — The game story is a night gamer, so not a lot there. Sorry, but that’s night games.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2009
IOWA CITY — You’ll have to excuse Ricky Stanzi for the occasional sway and stumble. That happens when you have the weight of an entire team on your back.
Stanzi is pretty much Iowa’s offense. He’ll “aw shucks” it and, certainly at times, you might not want to admit it, but it was never more true than in Saturday night’s 30-28 victory over Michigan.
The junior completed 20 of 38 for 284 yards, an interception returned for a TD and two TD passes, and led an Iowa offense that didn’t finish enough, but still wound up taking a sweet knee after free safety Brett Greenwood picked off UM’s Denard Robinson with 46 seconds left.
The No. 12 Hawkeyes (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) moved to 6-0 for the first time since 1985. The Wolverines fell to 4-2, 1-2.
After missing three games with an ankle injury, tight end Tony Moeaki caught six passes for 105 yards and two TDs, including a 42-yarder with 12:56 left in the fourth quarter that ended up being the winning points.
Iowa’s defense was bloodied, but still forced five turnovers out of the Wolverines, including Greenwood’s game-sealer, game-winner and game-finisher.
The Hawkeyes travel to Wisconsin (5-1, 2-1) next week. The Badgers fell 31-13 at Ohio State.
Say what you want about Stanzi. He made mistakes, but he carried an offense that never really found its footing Saturday night before 70,585 at Kinnick Stadium.
On their first possession of the second half, the Hawkeyes drove for a 40-yard Daniel Murray field goal and 23-14 lead with 10:45 left in the third quarter. It was his third field goal of the game (28, 41 and 40), a career-high for Murray. He also missed a 53-yarder just before halftime. After trading possessions, Michigan put together its most impressive drive of the night.
The Wolverines went away from spread-option trickery and delivered a punch in the mouth to Iowa’s defense, driving 57 yards on 10 plays with running back Brandon Minor breaking in from the 1 to pull UM within 23-21 with 4:23 left in the third quarter.
The Wolverines rushed nine of the 10 plays for 53 yards. Minor was the workhorse, going seven carries for 44 yards and the TD.
Just when it looked as if the Hawkeyes would take command, Stanzi missed.
Michigan’s Greg Matthews fumbled a punt and Iowa’s Willie Lowe recovered at UM’s 16. Iowa couldn’t take advantage.
With first down at Michigan’s 6, Iowa went pass incomplete, 3-yard pass to running back Brandon Wegher and 2-yard Wegher run. This set up fourth-and-1 1/2.
After a timeout, Stanzi rolled right to buy some time and then totally missed Moeaki, who was just breaking open. Michigan linebacker Stevie Brown nearly picked it off.
The best thing Michigan did with the ball from its 1 1/2 was punt it. Zoltan Mesko, first-team all-Big Ten last season, unleashed a 61-yarder that Colin Sandeman picked off the turf and returned 20 yards to UM’s 42.
What took so much effort last time looked so easy this time.
On first down, Stanzi ran a naked bootleg. His first option along the sideline was covered. He second option, short in the flat, was covered by a linebacker. His third option was gold. Running a drag route across the middle, tight end Tony Moeaki broke open late. Stanzi’s wait paid off. Moeaki caught a perfect pass and split the entire Michigan defense for a 42-yard score and a 30-21 lead with 12:56 left in the game. What was so close and yet so far away last time took just one play and 10 seconds this time.
Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier took a hit from Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn and left the game with about 12 minutes left.
The Wolverines brought in Denard Robinson, another true freshman quarterback. He ran the “wildcat” down the Hawkeyes’ throat and into the end zone. The 6-foot, 185-pounder took shotgun snap after shotgun snap and simply ran the ball. When the smoke cleared, he rushed eight times for 47 yards, including a 3-yard TD that pulled Michigan within 30-27 with 3:16 left.
Robinson accounted for every one of the 59 yard-drive.
This set up the third onside kick the Hawkeyes have seen this season. This one was no problem. Kicker Bryan Wright dribbled it out of bounds, giving Iowa a first down at Michigan’s 45.
On his first pass, Stanzi stumbled.
Stanzi stood in the pocket, looked right and threw it right into the arms of Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren, who returned it untouched 40 yards for a 7-0 Michigan lead with 14:14 left in the first quarter.
But Stanzi, facing down the pressure of having absolutely no running game and some pretty shaky pass blocking, made enough plays to lift Iowa to a 20-14 halftime lead.
One pass, six points the other way.
It was Stanzi’s third pick six of the season. The next drive started with a timeout. Iowa couldn’t get the play in on time. As far as starts go, Iowa looked like the road team, a nervous, nervous road team.
Stanzi taketh away and then he gaveth and then, finally, he “tooketh.”
Pat Angerer feature from 2009
BETTENDORF — A pair of black sweat socks went flying out the window at a busy intersection in Bettendorf.
This is the true story of four friends ... who bowl together ... and have their bowling observed by a reporter ... to find out what happens when the bowling stops being polite ... and starts getting real.
Three blocks from Miller Time Bowling, it’s too real for Tom Langford. His socks ended up in the ditch.
“Take one of my socks,” Pat Angerer said. “Put it on your lead foot. It’s better than nothing.”
Four high school friends proceed to bowl away a lazy summer Sunday. Why bowling?
“It keeps us out of trouble,” Angerer said.
These are four young men staring adulthood in the face. Langford, 23, is helping out coaching the Minnesota State linebackers after missing out on a bid for a sixth year of eligibility. John Davis, 22, is in the Army and working toward special forces. Greg Reckman, 22, is a criminal justice major at Iowa State.
You know Angerer, 22. He’s the Iowa Hawkeyes’ all-Big Ten middle linebacker. At Miller Time Bowling, he’s somewhat recognizable in a Bettendorf T-shirt.
In the lane to the left, a kids’ birthday party sings and bowls. To the right, some very good bowlers spin strikes. The Angerer crew makes noise. There’s the “psych outs,” some slapping and a few downright heckles.
“Greg, you’re scaring the kids,” Angerer says just above the din of the pins.
This is in direct contrast to the foursome’s behavior at the Angerer residence, a cozy home on a nice, quiet street in Bettendorf.
Cliff Angerer answers the door. He’s about 5-foot-6, bald with a gray beard and a block “I” tattoo with a Herky logo on one forearm. Mary Angerer welcomes the boys into the kitchen, where they sit and talk while Pat conducts an interview in the family room.
The walls are covered with family photos. Mary had four children — Johnny, Nate, Chris and Meagan — with her first husband before he died. Their last names are Willey and they’re older than Pat. That didn’t stop the rough play. Once, when Chris was training for mixed martial arts, he whupped up on Pat ... in the backyard ... on a trampoline.
“He probably put me in every submission they have,” Angerer laughed. “We’d get DVDs from Family Video and go in the backyard and practice on a trampoline.”
Chris is 6-foot-8 and six years older than Pat.
“Yeah,” Pat laughs. “Like that made it any safer.”
Pat is the youngest of Mary Angerer’s five children.
Pat, you see, is the miracle baby. (Future “psych out” material for the bowling league, right there.)
“I met Cliff and we had a little miracle and that was Patrick,” Mary said. “We thought we were finished. And I remember the day we found out we were going to have a boy.”
Cliff had been to an Iowa basketball game with a friend. He got home and they all thought, “it’d be so neat to have a kid who would play football for Iowa.”
“And then we got the call,” Mary said. “At the time, I was 39 and they (doctors) were checking to make sure everything was OK. I had a test in Iowa City. They called and said it was a boy.”
This is Cliff’s retirement. He worked 38 years at Alcoa. Now, with a part-time job cutting fairways at Glynns Creek, his job is to follow his Iowa football playing son.
“It feels, it feels ...” said Cliff, whose license plates read “PA43LB.” “Well, a proud dad, you might as well put it. That’s probably every dad’s dream, especially if you live in Iowa. I’ve been a Hawkeye fan all my life. Dreamed of having a son play. It’s amazing.”
It started with “they called and said it was a boy.”
“You knew he’d be something crazy because he was wild and kicking all the way,” Mary Angerer said.
“Something crazy” is a personality fans gravitate to.
After compiling just one tackle his sophomore year, Angerer pulled himself back from the brink of depth chart anonymity. His rotten sophomore year has been well chronicled. He lost 20-something pounds during a summer bout with mononucleosis and never found his physical stride.
That was the year his good friend, Hawkeye teammate and roommate Alex Kanellis, had to retire because of concussions. This was coming off a scary freshman year when Mary Angerer beat back colon cancer (“You were just praying, but she’s a bad ass,” Angerer said).
“That year was (bleepy), but I definitely needed it,” said Angerer, who led the Hawkeyes with 107 tackles and five interceptions last season. “It put a lot of things into perspective. I don’t take things for granted. It was definitely a blessing. God puts brick walls in front of you not to stop you, but for you to prove how much you want them.”
As a freshman, Angerer played in every game. Maybe that caught up to him. Remember, it’s fun to be a football player off the field, too.
“Pat would be the first guy to tell you this, but he was the guy having the most fun downtown,” fellow linebacker A.J. Edds said. “He finally figured out if he wanted to be a key guy on the team, on the field, he had to make some decisions on what was important to him.”
A dedicated Angerer showed up last fall.
“I said to myself, everything football,” he said. “Eating, sleeping and everything. I was kind of a loser, but it’s worth it.
“Coaches are investing a lot into us. They’re paying for our school. They’re giving us all kinds of money to live and pay rent, The least we can do is live right. We owe that to them.”
Angerer is living so “right” now that he’s sleeping in one of those high-altitude tents that pump oxygen into your body to aid healing. It was a $2,200 investment, but he says it’s worth it.
Last fall, the invested Angerer shared the No. 1 middle linebacker spot with Jacody Coleman. Angerer took the job after Pitt.
That’s when the “Chuck Norris-fixation” of Angerer started on the internet and in the media.
Do you feel the Chuck Norris thing from fans? “Yeah, overrated,” Angerer laughed.
The man crush thing probably has something to do with the tattoos. Angerer has them all over. It started with his brother Chris tattooing wings under both arms. Chris bought the tattoo gun and those were his first.
The latest is an American flag waving in the wind with “Pledge of Allegiance” written above it. It took three sittings at Rock Island’s Sleeve Weasels.
Angerer isn’t into any real deep meaning with his body art — “I think people try to justify why they want to get them, but when it boils down to it, I think they just want to get one.” But his brother Nate served in the Marines and did a tour in Somalia, just before the “Black Hawk Down” period.
Angerer holds love of country close.
“I’m very thankful and blessed to live in this country,” he said. “The men and women who fight for our freedom ... it’s unbelievable. How can you not love and respect that?”
The other part of the Norris-fication is the MMA thing with Angerer.
The Quad Cities is an epicenter of MMA-ness. Pulling into the parking lot of Miller Time Bowling, there’s a car touting an MMA club. The photographer for this piece, Louis Brems, is from the Quad Cities. He and Angerer talked it up, “I don’t want Fedor to be out of his time by the time they fight.”
Angerer has always been a fan of the sport. He wrestled (and played soccer) at Bettendorf High School. You can tell the idea piques his interest, but push comes to shove, he knows it would take an entirely different kind of training than football.
“I know to get good at that you have to absolutely master it. That takes a ton of time,” said Angerer, a 6-1, 235-pounder. “Right now, I don’t know if I could last five seconds with any of those guys. I’d maybe do it as a training thing.
“Those guys are the greatest athletes on the planet. I don’t think I compare to any of those guys. They’re studs.”
He wants to give the NFL his best shot, but that’s not even in the back of his mind. Iowa football is everything. The schedule — with road games at Penn State and Ohio State — is tough, but Angerer calls it “opportunity.”
And then he turns down the volume on any talk of individuality or hype.
“I’ve got to work my ass off this year. I haven’t done anything,” Angerer said. “There are a ton of linebackers who’ve played at Iowa who’ve done a lot more than I have. I’m not a big deal. I have a ton of things to fix and I’m not looking much beyond that.”
The tattooed, Chuck Norris, MMA and middle linebacker guy is actually very quiet and humble. He’s dated the same woman (Mary Porter) since his sophomore year in high school.
He loves God, family and country. He holds his friends close.
Kind of close.
He got off the couch and walked toward the kitchen. He motioned to the table where Tom, Greg and John sat.
“Don’t talk to them,” he said. “They’re (bleeps).”
The kitchen erupted in laughter. And then it was time to bowl.