By HawkeyeGameFilm

Now that we’re through the regular season, lets take a look back at how James Vandenberg did and how he stacks up to his predecessor, the ultimate American, Ricky Stanzi. We’ll compare him with the ‘09 vintage Stanzi to get a good idea of how each player fared in their first year as a full time starter. We’ll use a few categories to break them down: 1) Raw stats 2) Situational Stats 3) Film analysis

The obvious differences here are the interceptions. Despite playing about 1.5 fewer games than Vandenberg, Stanzi had more than double the number of INT’s. A lot of those INT’s were due to poor decisions or misreading the coverage. Some were just due to mechanically throwing passes that just weren’t open. Stanzi didn’t have the arm strength to cover up poor reads, but at times Vandenberg gets away with equally bad reads due to his arm strength. Combine that with Vandenberg’s being a little more cautious than Stanzi and I think you have a pretty good explanation how Vandenberg only threw 6 INT’s.

The other number that sticks out to me is the completion percentage. A full 3% difference in favor of Vandenberg and I’d guess it has a lot to do with mechanics. In ‘09 Stanzi had issues with his footwork and getting his body turned, which caused a lot of off target throws. Vandenberg had excellent mechanics most of the time and also can put more zip on his throws than Stanzi could.

The one statistical category that Stanzi has an advantage is in Yards Per Attempt. Stanzi attacked down the field pretty effectively during the ‘09 campaign and came up with a lot of big plays. He definitely paid for the high risk throws with the INTs at times but he managed to complete a pretty fair percentage as well. Stanzi also benefited from some dynamic receivers making big plays after the catch, but he did his fair share on creating big plays. Vandenberg isn’t far behind in YPA and also threw a lot of nice passes down the field. Finally Vandenberg outpaced Stanzi by a little over 11 points in pure QB rating as well. Looks like we’ll give the nod to Vandenberg for overall stats and move onto some situational stats.

Situational Stats

Overall a pretty even split here. Both were noticeably better at home than they were on the road. The biggest difference here is the TD:INT ratio, but Stanzi’s home numbers are skewed a bit by throwing the 5INTs against Indiana. Overall I’d call this area a push relative to their overall numbers.

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Overall a pretty even split here. Both were noticeably better at home than they were on the road. The biggest difference here is the TD:INT ratio, but Stanzi’s home numbers are skewed a bit by throwing the 5 INTs against Indiana. Overall I’d call this area a push relative to their overall numbers.

I think you could make a pretty strong case for saying these were the two worst games for both players (With JVB you could make a case for Nebraska as well). A major difference here is that Stanzi won his games where he performed poorly. Quite frankly his numbers don’t lead you to believe he had a whole lot to do with his team winning those two games. Everyone remembers the big final drive at Michigan St that Stanzi put together, but most forget he was abysmal all night and missed throw after throw until that last drive. While Vandenberg was bad in these two games, Stanzi was worse. Advantage Vandenberg.

Pretty consistent results here with both guys having better numbers against non-conference foes. Vandenberg has the edge here with a significantly better TD to INT ratio, completion percentage and QB rating. Stanzi again holds the edge here in YPA, and by a wider margin than the aggregate. Advantage Vandenberg.

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Here we have found an area where Stanzi is the clear victor. Stanzi wasn’t good against ranked opponents but he wasn’t bad. While he was stellar against lesser foes, Vandenberg was pretty awful in his four games against ranked foes. His numbers are all in the tank for those four games with Michigan being the only win. Stanzi really wasn’t much worse vs ranked opponents than he was against non-ranked. Advantage Stanzi.

Both players had their moments on tape and each had some great throws. What separates them is consistency and that is where Vandenberg reigns supreme. Stanzi definitely had some very high moments including his storming 4th quarter comeback against Indiana & the final drive against MSU, but in between all the big moments were some pretty bad throws. Stanzi also benefited from having a loaded defense that helped erase some of his mistakes and kept opponents off the scoreboard. On my film grading scale Stanzi came out +10 for the season with a high game of +5 against Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Vandenberg scored +5 twice and +4 four times during the season for a total +22. Advantage Vandenberg.


So after getting an in depth look at the statistics and film I’m led to the conclusion that Vandenberg had a better first year as a starter. The areas where he struggled were clearly on the road and against ranked teams. When it was against ranked teams on the road, it was just a very long day. Stanzi didn’t seem to be affected by being on the road as much as Vandenberg but his numbers suffered on the road as well. As a Senior, Stanzi improved across the board in all statistical areas, though he didn’t come out with as many wins. I expect Vandenberg will improve his game as well and should be ranked among the top passers in the NCAA in 2012. As for how many wins that gives his team, it will be interesting to see what happens.