Kirk Ferentz and Ken O'Keefe never flinched. They stuck with their starter. He returned from injury at the Orange Bowl after almost two months off and led the Hawkeyes to a win and a Top 10 finish nationally.
Stanzi has nerves of steel. And he'll need them next year as Iowa rebuilds its offensive line.
Slip ups will happen. After some of them, there will be people calling for back-up James Vandenberg.
Vandenberg showed some toughness at Ohio State filling in for an injured Stanzi. He earned fans. While the Stanzi injury may have cost the Hawkeyes a chance at bigger things in 2009, it afforded Vandenberg a chance to receive meaningful snaps.
In the long run, Iowa benefitted from Vandenberg getting on the field. It set them up pretty well for the position heading '10.
Hawkeye Insider takes a look at the Iowa signal callers in our latest installment of Sneak Peek – Projecting the Depth Chart:
Rick Stanzi, RS Senior - Few people would have predicted that this Ohio recruit would be the one leading Iowa back to prominence. The smart money was on Arvell Nelson of Glenville, or so we thought.
As we mentioned above, Stanzi is prone to the mistake. And to think that will magically go away when he becomes a senior might be a little naïve. But the kid knows how to win (18-4 as a starter). He enters his senior season seventh in career passing yards (4,142) and touchdowns (28).
James Vandenberg, RS Sophomore - Nobody really knew what Iowa had behind Stanzi for the first nine games of 2009. But when the starter went down against Northwestern on Week 10, the question was answered and it wasn't pretty.
Vandenberg was just 9 of 27 for 82 yards and couldn't lead the Hawkeyes to any points after Stanzi left the game early in the second quarter. Iowa's undefeated season came to an end with a 17-10 defeat to the Wildcats at Kinnick Stadium.
Fans feared the worst as Vandenberg made his first start the following week at Ohio State. But the newcomer made his hometown of Keokuk proud as he rallied the Hawkeyes to overtime, where they finally fell 27-24.
Iowa goes into '10 with a capable backup, which should make the coaches and fans sleep a little better at night.
John Wienke, RS Sophomore - Some message board folks like to predict Iowa's third string quarterback will see the forest through the trees and transfer. They're not listening to head coach Kirk Ferentz, who has gone out of his way to praise the former Illinois high school star.
Wienke originally committed to Michigan before backing out on the Wolverines when Lloyd Carr left the program. He's already put two years into the Iowa system and provides some needed experience at the No. 3 spot.
Others to Watch
A.J. Derby, TR Freshman - The much heralded recruit moves across town and most signs point to a red shirt for his continued development at the position.
Austin Vier, TR Freshman - Like Derby, Iowa will give the home grown talent a chance at signal caller. Smart money is on the Huxley native to red shirt.
Wyatt Suess, RS Freshman - The walk-on from Cedar Rapids Washington High dressed for all of last year's home games. He led the state with 3,163 passing yards in 2008.