GameFilm: James Vandenberg

September 18, 2011

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation is pleased to announce the addition of ‘HawkeyeGameFilm’ to our team.  I hope you enjoy reading his film reviews of Iowa football games. We’ll lead off with HGF’s analysis of James Vandenberg, which will be one of six offerings you will read over the next day and a half from HGF. Coming up later today will be the offensive line and skill positions reviews.  Be sure to follow him on twitter @hawkeyegamefilm

Every player has defining moments in their careers, especially QB’s.  I believe his play at OSU in ’09 was one early defining moment that set expectations pretty high for his first year as a starter. I believe his play to close out Pittsburgh is the start of fulfilling those lofty expectations. He struggled greatly through the first 2.5 quarters of the game, and then when Iowa had their back against the wall down 24-3, with no room for errors, Vandenberg took the reins in the no huddle and delivered great pass after great pass. You could tell Pitt’s defense was not ready for Iowa to come at them with a no huddle and even after they adjusted and brought pressure, JVB continued to fire accurate passes where only his guy could get it.

I have been talking about how James Vandenberg has the ability to throw the ball to spots down the field that Stanzi couldn’t last year.  Both TD’s to KMM were on vertical routes against man coverage. His TD pass to Davis was a skinny post against man coverage. All three of his TD passes were big time throws that require big time arm strength, and JVB certainly has that. All three were thrown with great accuracy as well.  This game was a great example of the types of throws JVB can make down the field.

One thing to keep in mind is as great as the comeback was, JVB was locking into one target very often.  Announcer and former coach Mike Bellotti took notice of this and also noted that if you’re accurate it doesn’t really matter. JVB was certainly in the zone during the comeback and was throwing very accurately but he had some opportunities to make it easier on himself. As he goes back and looks at the film here he’ll see these things and learn from them.

JVB looked very comfortable in the shotgun on those late drives and it really allowed him to read the blitz better. Most QB’s are more comfortable with the shotgun for this reason and Iowa’s coaches seem to have noticed as well, keeping JVB mostly in the gun during the hurry up look.

By all accounts JVB never lost his composure despite being down big late in the game. He was always staying positive and it’s almost as if he somehow knew that he’d lead Iowa on a historic comeback.  It appears the years of tutelage under Stanzi helped as he looks to have the same ability to shake off mistakes and always have his mind on the task at hand.

The Good & Bad

+1 Great way to open the ball game as he fires a very nice ball down the field to Brad Herman for a big gain. Drive 1 Play 1

-1 Airmailed a throw on the run here and looks like he didn’t set his feet here. Didn’t have any pressure and could have taken his time and setup and made a better throw. D1 Play 2

-1 Needs to get rid of the ball or get down and protect the ball. Had 4 full seconds in the pocket and that internal clock needs to go off for him. D1 Play 4

-1 Very poor job here, led the defense right to where he was throwing with his eyes  and it gets picked off. He also had McNutt coming wide open after clearing the LB in the zone. Needs to see the field better than this. D2 Play 2

-1 Off target throw behind McNutt that he gets bailed out on. Timing&accuracy needs to be better than this. Could have waited for KMM to clear on the slightly deep cross and he was coming wide open. D5 Play 5

Continue reading below

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+1 Nice poise in the pocket here as he delivers an on-target ball to McNutt who was all alone. Nice ball. D5 Play 6

+1 Nice job throwing a catchable ball on a critical 3rd down. May have hung out KD a little bit but a pretty decent throw with all the traffic underneath. D5 Play 9

-1 Just puts too much on touch pass here as he overthrows a wide open McNutt in the back of the end zone. Had a lot of room to put this ball in and needs to complete it. D5 Play 15

-1 Got a little jumpy here and fired this ball out down the field to McNutt who was pretty well covered. Needed to wait as KD was clearing underneath on the deep cross and was open. D6 Play 3

-1 Off target throw here as he had KD open, didn’t have good mechanics on this one. Looks pensive despite no pressure and put the ball in the air a bit too early. D6 Play 5

Continue reading below

+1 Excellent poise against the blitz here from the gun. Fires a very accurate ball to McNutt on the slant in the vacated underneath zone. D7 Play 4

-0 Near pick 6 was just a tendency read by the Pitt corner. Iowa likes to throw that 5 yard hitch to the wide side on first down in opponents territory when driving. D9 Play 4

+1 Looked off coverage nicely here as he looked at the TE down the seam and then fired a decisive accurate pass to McNutt on his right. D10 Play 1 ‘

+1 Excellent throw to start the drive. Throws the fade with nice touch here. Needed this play. D11 Play 1

+1 Great job finding the deep crosser here as he starts to find a rhythm. Perfect timing and accuracy hitting KMM in stride. D11 Play 2

+1 Nice job dropping it in the seam route to his TE. Probably had an easier throw to KMM on the other side seam route but still an excellent ball here to open the drive. D12 Play 1

Continue reading below

+1 Put this ball in a mailbox. Great throw with 0 room for error over the middle here. D12 Play 6

+1 Beautiful ball to KD for the score. JVB read the man coverage and he hit KD in stride after he beat his man. D12 Play 6

-1 Threw behind KD here who was breaking open. Threw this ball a tad too late and better throw and KD had open grass in front of’m. D13 Play 4

+1 Beautiful ball up the outside vertical seam. Throws the WR open to the outside as he spotted the mismatch. D13 Play 8

+1 Great job staying in the pocket and then scrambling and after he finished his progression. Showed decent athleticism here picking up 15. D14 Play 7

Overall: +4


_ Left Middle Right Sub-total
Short 5/11 38y 8/9 72y 5/7 66y 1TD 18/27 138y
Medium 4/7 69y 1INT 3/3 46 3/6 77y 1TD 10/16 192y 1TD 1INT
Deep 0/0 0y 0/0 0y 3/5 69y 2TD 3/5 69y 2TD
Sub-total 7/16 107y 1INT~ 11/12 118y~ 13/18 174y 3TD


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