MSU Week: Rick Stanzi Q&A

Iowa quarterback Rick Stanzi thinks that playing a full game makes a difference in his confidence level. He had that shot last week and finished 21-30 against Northwestern. He will get the start again this weekend, the first road start of his career at Michigan State...

Q: How big is this week to bounce back?

Rick Stanzi: We know what the mistakes we made are and the things we have left out there. This is a big week for us and we have to prepare well and go on the road and answer some questions and test ourselves a little bit.

Q: What are some of the specific strides you have made in the passing game from Pitt to Northwestern?

Stanzi: I don't know that we took a different approach to anything. It was a game plan thing, Coach came up with a plan and we go out there and run it. The main thing is execution. We don't focus on one play or setup, it's going out there and executing as a whole and get the ball to the receivers. Let them have the ball in their hands and make plays, that is the main thing. However we do that, whether it's a rollout or drop back, it doesn't matter. It's more execution than details. It's better to just focus on the executing part of it, that is what it comes down to.

Q: What are some of the areas where you were struggling in that you have pushed forward in or still need to?

Stanzi: Making the easy throws, the ones that will come back to haunt you on first or second down, the short passes that you need to keep a drive alive. As a quarterback those are the kinds of things that build a rhythm, and get you working well in the system and with the offense. I think a focus for me is to make sure that you get the easy passes to the receiver. If you can't hit the easy ones, how can you throw the one downfield? You have to hit the short intermediate passes that will open up the deep game for you later.

Q: Coach mentioned earlier how he thought last week was the best the receivers had looked this year, as well as blocking. Is that the feeling you took away from Saturday?

Stanzi: As an offense, as a collective group, I think we showed a lot of good things out there. One of the bright spots was the receivers. I am not here to comment on what they are doing and what their best game has been, but they did a great job of playing hard, playing physical and going to get the ball instead of waiting for it. Those things show up on film. It shows they are growing and becoming a better core group, it will make it easier to open up the offense.

Q: The depth is showing there.

Stanzi: Yeah, we have a lot of guys that can make plays, and there are only so many spots for all of those guys on the field. If you can get a good rotation and depth at that position, especially at that position, that is important for us and we will try to use that to our advantage.

Q: Did the game slow down for you Saturday compared to Iowa State?

Stanzi: I would say a little bit. There are still some things I need to recognize better. I felt comfortable for the most part, I felt looser than I have been in the past couple weeks. It was nice to go out and play the game from beginning to end; I think that helped me with my confidence. The physical aspect of it, going through an entire game is something I hadn't done before. It was a big learning process for me and the offense. We have things to work on and we have a whole week to patch things up before we go to Michigan.

Q: Are you allowing yourself to feel comfortable now that the quarterback controversy may be over?

Stanzi: No, any time you are in a comfort zone, that isn't good. You have to strive to get better, which is for the whole team. We can't be comfortable at all. We are not comfortable with what we are right now as a team, and you should never be. You always try to get better and improve. We try to take that focus to practice and try to come out better each day.

Q: Is there more pressure this week than last week on the offense because Michigan State runs a ball controlled attack and there may be fewer possessions?

Stanzi: We know that we need to go out and put points on the board. They have a team that can run the ball really well. Our defense will do what they can do. We need to do our thing on offense. When we are out there, we have to put points on the board. Right now, we are working on our game plan and our execution to get our timing down so when we go there, we have a good idea of what we are trying to do and will do it the best we can.

Q: Is each possession more valuable this week?

Stanzi: It's hard to tell, you talk about that after the game really. You can make predictions, that they are going to run it. As far as how valuable things are, I think each possession is valuable. Last week, that came out. Each opportunity is important. You have to take advantage of everything. Mistakes cant get in the way.

Q: What did Northwestern do at the line of scrimmage to confuse you?

Stanzi: I don't know if there are specifics. There are a number of things. They can show one thing and bring another, they can switch up the fronts on you, they got me on that last week. It depends on their tendencies. I am trying to be more focused on what we have to do as an offense and our execution on each play as opposed to what it is they are trying to do to psyche me out. That is the wrong thing to think about. You don't prepare for what they are going to do so much along those lines, you worry about their overall game plan and how you will attack it.


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