- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said last week he had been preparing for Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi even before he was sure that Stanzi would be healthy enough to play against the Jackets on Tuesday night in the FedEx Orange Bowl.
While he wasn’t sure if the Hawkeyes would use one quarterback or two, Wommack was certain of one thing: “All I know is when Ricky Stanzi has been in there, they've won football games,” he said, “and I know they lost the one against Northwestern when he was knocked out after I think it was the 19th play of the game. They ended up losing the game. … I think he could make most of the throws and everything. You know, he's gone against some pretty darn good defenses throughout the years. So he looks to me like he's a pretty good football player, Stanzi.”
Stanzi started Iowa’s first 10 games and got the Hawkeyes off to a 9-1 start before suffering an ankle injury in the second quarter against Northwestern and missing the rest of the regular season. He completed 154 of 275 passes for 2,186 yards, 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His performances have been unpredictable, as he threw five interceptions against lowly Indiana, but didn’t throw one on the road against Wisconsin.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said that Stanzi has looked “absolutely fine” the past couple of weeks.
“He's a little sore after workouts,” Ferentz said. “But, you know, he ices it up and we don't anticipate any problems with him at all this week.”
The experience factor, though, should give the Hawkeyes a confidence boost.
“He just knows how to lead our team,” said senior guard Dace Richardson. “He knows the right audibles if we don’t have the right looks to make. He’s quick on his feet. When he went down, a lot of us were upset, but luckily James Vandenberg came in and did real great job and almost beat a great team for us.”
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said the Jackets don’t prepare for any one player, they prepare for the system.
‘They're not going to change what they do radically, no matter who the quarterback was or who is playing or the running back or whoever it might be,” Johnson said. “So you get ready for what their offense presents. And certainly he's an outstanding player and he was the starter for a reason. So I feel sure that he'll be back full speed, and we figure he's going to play a great game.”
The only question is if he’ll wait until the fourth quarter again to do it.
16hDavid M. Hale