Iowa Hawkeyes First Quarter Analysis: A Different Ricky Stanzi

20 09 2010

Ricky Stanzi, Iowa Hawkeyes“Be careful what you wish for.”

How many times have you heard that?

“Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.” That’s been the warning for as long as I can remember.

Since January 6, the number one key to the Iowa Hawkeyes’ success has unanimously been that Ricky Stanzi must decrease the interceptions, especially the “pick-6s”. That has come from fans, media, coaches and even Ricky himself.

Preseason magazines, college preview shows, every article written on the promise of the 2010 Hawkeyes building on their success of 2009, and water cooler conversations among fans have all shared the same view; “the Hawkeyes cannot continue to win if Stanzi keeps throwing interceptions.”

So in the offseason, Ricky has had that mantra running through his head mixed in with all of the patriotic songs and verses, play calls and defensive reads he needs to work on to take that next step in his senior season as the Iowa quarterback.

Some pundits mentioned Ricky in the preseason Heisman talk, “as long as he cuts down the interceptions.” He was placed on the Davey O’Brien preseason watch list, “but he needs to reduce the number of interceptions.”

So Kirk Ferentz and Ken O’Keefe spent the offseason drilling into Ricky’s head, “don’t take the big risks, check down, hold on to the ball, run with it if you have to, throw it away, don’t gamble deep.” And it showed on opening day against Eastern Illinois.

Ricky looked afraid to throw the ball more than 10 yards down field. But when he tried, it worked (all three times). He looked anxious to hit the check-down receiver or the running back out of the backfield. He passed on wide open receivers (Marvin McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos) at least six times in the first two games, opting for either the tight end or running back instead. He definitely did not look like the Ricky Stanzi with the Captain America swagger he carried in the Orange Bowl, or in the fourth quarters against Indiana and Michigan State, or even late against Penn State in 2008.

Ricky Stanzi is now just Steve Rogers.

I wish the stats would show what is clearly evident by watching Stanzi version 2010, compared to Stanzi version 2009, but they don’t. They actually support the efforts of Ferentz and O’Keefe, except one major stat, and prove you can’t measure swagger with numbers.

After the first three games in 2009, Ricky was a clean 60 of 100 (60%) passing attempts for 644 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. He was sacked only eight times behind a veteran offensive line against teams like Northern Iowa, Iowa State and Arizona, and had 12 official rushing attempts.

In comparison, after the first three games in 2010, Ricky is 47 of 74 (63.5%) for 711 yards with six touchdowns and only one interception. All marked improvements from a year ago. He has been sacked nine times with 21 official rushing attempts. All of these numbers can easily be attributed to the new philosophy designed to reduce turnovers and interceptions.

But the most glaring statistic of them all is not the reduced interceptions or increased rushing attempts and sacks, it’s the record.

After the first quarter of the 2009 season, Iowa was 3-0, on their way to a school-record 9-0 start, ending with a BCS victory in the Orange Bowl. In 2010, the Hawkeyes are 2-1 (ranked 18 in both polls) with more questions than answers and seemingly lacking an identity to claim for the 2010 season.

This could easily be just like 2002, when Brad Banks led the Hawkeyes to an undefeated Big 10 conference run and an 11-1 regular season record. But in order for that to happen, the swagger of the Iowa Hawkeyes must return, and that begins with their leader, Captain America, Ricky Stanzi.

There is definitely a different feeling with this year’s Hawkeyes. But the teams have switched sides of the field and the Hawkeyes come out in the second quarter starting with Ball State, Saturday (Sept. 25), and then Big 10 conference play with Penn State and then to the Big House against whatever Michigan team decides to show up. The Parade to the Roses starts now.


NCAA flagged for excessive buzzkilling with new rules

15 04 2010

The NCAA has gone too far!!!

OK, we could say that on a daily basis, but this time it’s true. OK, we’ve all probably said that a hundred times already, too. But I’m serious. The new NCAA football rules are too much.

I understand and support the new wedge blocking rule on kickoffs. But the ban on eye-black messages is questionable and the new anti-celebration rule is just ridiculous.

It is no surprise that the NCAA waits until AFTER it’s Demigod Child Tim Tebow moved on to put this rule into place. They would never tell Tim he couldn’t do something. He could have written F*** USC on his eye black and got away clean as a surgical utensil. But now that he is gone, it is no longer acceptable. Because NOW, instead of wholesome religious references, unscrupulous football players might try to pay homage to deceased friends, area codes, or even put gang signs on them.

But the Nike Swoosh is OK?. Makes sense to me.

Now the new anti-celebration rule that penalizes teams by incurring the penalty from the spot of the infraction and removing the points is just unconstitutional.

I understand they want to reduce taunting and unsportsmanlike behavior, but this is just insane. You can tell a bunch of old white guys sat around a table sipping their Scotch while smoking cigars when they came up with this one.

High-stepping, pointing to the crowd or opponent and diving into the endzone uncontested are just a few examples of new rule violations. But who decides when and where the infraction officially occurred, and how? Will instant replay be used? Will there be a celebration cop on the crew? And how far will it go.

Just wait until the first game when a player is flagged for celebration after a visiting player returns an interception for a touchdown and slows down after glancing over his shoulder to see who is following him. Is slowing down and looking back at your opponent now considered taunting? How much slowing down is too much? If a player walks the final three yards into the endzone, is that excessive?

And then, wait until the first meaningful game is decided by an excessive celebration call for something minor like fist-pumping after a game/season-changing play. What if it is the player’s first career touchdown? Or an emotional day for a player who just lost his father and just broke away to score the game-winning touchdown? What happens if Team A is penalized for a certain celebration on Week 2 (and loses the game) and then Team B is not penalized for the same exact type of play during Week 5? Can Team A dispute the results of the game? How can the NCAA ensure consistency in the calls?

It is not a black-and-white, clearly defined situation. Of course, some instances are more blatant than others, but where does it end? Who has the final say? Can a coach challenge the interpretation?

And after a banner year for referees being fined or suspended for blowing pivotal game calls, do we really want to give them more power to institute a new rule than has too much room for individual bias and interpretation.

I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all! Flag me for that!!

Mr Pressbox Out!!

Who is behind NCAA tournament expansion? Obama and Pelosi?

1 04 2010

The NCAA continues to prove it is guided by the quest for the almighty dollar and not the desire to put the best product on the field. With the announcement today that IF the NCAA expands the NCAA basketball tournament, it will explode to 96 teams – not a more sensible expansion to 68.

Who is in charge of this mess? Barrack Obama and Nancy Pelosi?

Expanding the NCAA tournament to 96 teams will only dilute the product already out there. Yes we all love to see the David’s slay the Goliath’s, but no one ever really gives Lehigh a chance to beat Kansas. And now you are adding 32 teams worse than the 15 and 16 seeds already in the tournament. Say hello to the sub-.500 teams making the tournament field.

It’s like the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups of basketball tournaments; you got your NCAA tournament in my NIT, you got your NIT tournament in my NCAA tournament. All for the sake of trying to squeeze more money out of the TV networks stupid enough to go along with this charade, the sponsors buying the commercial space on those networks, and the helpless fans who will be milked dry for the sake of following the teams they love.

And how will you make the bracket work at work? The NCAA claims to have the system in place, but it all won’t fit on one piece of paper you can run through the copier and hand out at work for $5 a pop. The top 32 teams will get a bye, and while the lower 64 teams fight for the lower half of the “original” 64-team bracket. On top of that mess, they plan to squeeze the whole thing into the same window as the regular NCAA tournament.

So instead of the NCAA expanding the BCS into a football tournament, the NCAA is choosing to dilute an already weak product. The fans want a football playoff and get “the heisman” from the NCAA. But when fans oppose the basketball tournament expansion (polls right now on national sports sites show a 3-to-1 ratio against expansion), the NCAA says “open up, this will only hurt a little bit” as they ram the tournament expansion down our throats.

When did the NCAA headquarters relocate to Washington, D.C.?

Mr Pressbox Out!!

CBS Final Four coverage needs multi-channel play-by-play

28 03 2010

Do I really have to listen to Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg during the Final Four broadcasts? Hello, Mute button.

Why can’t they broadcast the Final Four like NASCAR or even The Masters, with multiple channels simultaneously but with different broadcast teams? Or even broadcast the same channel with multiple audio channels to choose from?

So instead of being forced to listen to Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg, we could choose to listen to Dick Enberg, Gus Johson, Ian Eagle, or possibly Verne Lundquist. Better yet, we could flip back and forth just for the pure entertainment of it all.

Maybe I don’t want to listen to a Duke promoter, or the guy who is calling the game from the “this is what Butler needs to do to win the game” angle. Maybe I want to choose the bias I want to listen to, not the one CBS is forcing down my throat.

And while I’m at it, maybe someone from Fox Sports could look into the same thing for the football playoffs. I can’t tell you how many times I would beg to hear Kenny Albert’s (or anyone else’s) voice over Joe Buck and Troy Aikman during the NFC playoffs on Fox. Maybe they can get Darryl Waltrip and Mike Joy to do an alternate NFL broadcast opposite of Joe and Troy. At least they would make Cowboy’s games interesting to listen to.

Mr Pressbox Out!!