James Vandenberg Next Man in for Iowa Hawkeyes

Tim Weideman@TimWeidemanAnalyst INovember 7, 2009

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 01:  Ricky Stanzi #12 of the Iowa Hawkeyes drops back to pass against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the Outback Bowl on January 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The word on Iowa Hawkeye quarterback Ricky Stanzi's condition likely won't reach public ears as soon as many fans hope.

What is known is that the injury Stanzi suffered to his ankle while being tackled by two Northwestern defenders is severe and could keep Stanzi out for the remainder of the regular season.

Stanzi's absence left an already struggling Iowa offense helpless in the 17-10 defeat at the hands of Northwestern.

Blame it on the absence of a running game, poor play-calling or a phantom hold that took a touchdown off the board—none of those factors were as key to Iowa's loss as the departure of Stanzi.

Stanzi may not have the gaudiest numbers and, yes, he makes his fair share of mistakes, the Iowa quarterback was the leader of an already injury-plagued offense.

Many of the injuries prior to Stanzi's have occurred at key positions for the Hawkeyes. As always, they've been filled by players ready to step up.

Once again, it's next man in:

Welcome to FBS Division football, James Vandenberg.

The former prep out of Keokuk High School (Keokuk, Iowa) will have big shoes to fill but, as long as Stanzi's status is up in air, he has no option.

Vandenberg has the potential and skills needed to lead this offense—he was the best high school quarterback in Iowa's history.

Vandenberg holds Iowa high school records in 12 categories, among them passing yards (7,709), touchdown passes (93), single-season passing yards (3,729 as a senior) and single-season touchdown passes (49 as a senior).

As if Iowa records weren't enough, Vandenberg sits sixth all-time nationally in single-season completion percentage (70 percent) and tenth nationally for career completion percentage (64.6 percent).

Vandenberg was less than impressive today, going only nine of 27 pass attempts for 82 yards and throwing one interception in his first pass attempt. He often over-threw and under-threw his targets.

To be fair, much of his struggle came from his only experience being as minimal as experience gets and insignificant at best.

Nevertheless, Vandenberg will have to learn the ropes quickly. He'll get that chance as he practices with the first-team offense during the week.

The Hawkeyes may have lost out on an opportunity at the BCS title but two more games still remain, including next week's contest against Ohio State.

The Big Ten Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl remain possibilities if Iowa can get past the Buckeyes.

Iowa remains in control of its own destiny.

The Hawkeyes have stepped up and surprised all season long.

Now, it's Vandenberg's turn.

Next man in.


This article is also featured on iowahawkeyesblog.com .