Iowa Is Well-Armed

As far as his quarterback position is concerned, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz believes that two heads, actually, two arms are better than one.

Ferentz has used 6-foot-4, 215-pound sophomore right-hander Ricky Stanzi and 6-1, 215-pound junior lefty Jake Christensen in all three Iowa games this season. The two are listed as co-starters for the game, but Christensen led the Hawkeyes (3-0) to a win last week in a relief appearance, and he likely will start against Pittsburgh (1-1) Saturday at noon at Heinz Field.

"Stanzi might have a bit of a stronger arm and he might be a little bit more accurate, but he's probably not as athletic,'' Pitt's Dave Wannstedt said. "But they aren't going to change their offense regardless of who's at quarterback.

"We'll prepare for both, (and) we expect both to play. We just have to be aware of who's in the game because of movement passes and spring-out passes, as far as being left-handed or right-handed. But we're prepared to go either way.''

Ferentz wouldn't commit to naming a starter, but he discussed both players.

"We're not a different offense with either one of them in there as far as our play-calling and that type of thing,'' Ferentz said. "It's not like one guy's a runner, and one guy is a thrower. Jake has some experience but he had a rough time last year because we didn't have much support for him.

"On the other hand, he has more experience than Rick, but Rick is a guy who has emerged and made a push in the spring and has played very well in practice since August. It's a good, competitive situation, and it's fair to say both guys will play this week (at Pitt).''

Pitt defensive coordinator Phil Bennett believed it was simple for Ferentz to make a decision. Even though Stanzi earned starts the past two weeks with his practice performances, Christensen has 14 career starts and as the more-experienced player would be a better choice for a road game.

"I was watching the Big Ten network (Tuesday), and they were asking Kirk questions about his quarterbacks like they were relief pitchers,'' Bennett said. "You know, they were asking, '(Are) you going to go with the left-hander, the right-hander,' (and) it became comical to be honest because, what we've seen out of them, they do the same things.''

Bennett and Wannstedt believed that Christensen was the more athletic and elusive of the two, but statistically they're pretty even.

Stanzi has 13 rushing attempts for 48 yards with a long run for 18, while Christensen has just seven runs for four net yards. Stanzi is 22-for-38 passing for 347 yards (57.9 percent) with three touchdowns and two interceptions, both last week against Iowa State. His long pass is for 59 yards to wideout Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.

Christensen is 21-for-32 for 248 yards and two touchdowns with just one interception. He came on in relief last week with the score tied 3-3 and led Iowa to a touchdown on his first drive and a 17-5 victory.

"So, going on the road, Kirk probably is thinking that he'd rather go with a guy that's experienced and started 14 games (Christensen),'' Bennett said. "So, if we see Stanzi, I think that means we're playing good.

"But they believe in their run game and play-action pass game. And you can do that with a right-handed or left-handed quarterback.''

Pitt fifth-year senior middle linebacker Scott McKillop took Iowa's two-armed quarterback discussion a step further.

"They have two good quarterbacks and appear to be comfortable using both,'' McKillop said. "They both bring slightly different qualities to the game, but Iowa really doesn't change when the other guy comes in.

"So, what we need to do is force them into third-and-long situations, and that will be the difference in the game for us.''

And that shouldn't have anything to do with who's playing quarterback for Iowa.

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