Missouri and Iowa are set to meet for the first time in 100 years. Leading up to the December 28th Insight Bowl, we will give Tiger and Hawkeye fans an in-depth look at every position on the field.
Each day until kickoff, we will highlight a different position on the field. PowerMizzou.com publisher Gabe DeArmond and HawkeyeReport.com publisher Tom Kakert will give fans the scoop on the key players to watch as the Tigers and Hawkeyes hook up for the 2010 season finale.
Projected starter: Ricky Stanzi, backup James VandenbergKey Player: Ricky Stanzi
Key Stat: Last year Stanzi had 17 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions. This year he has thrown 25 touchdown passes and cut his interceptions down to just four.
Analysis: There was a point in the middle of the season where Stanzi's name was mentioned as a possible contender for the Heisman Trophy. His numbers in 2010 are close to those put up in 2002 by Brad Banks, who finished 2nd in the Heisman balloting, but that team finished with just two losses. Stanzi dedicated himself over the summer to becoming a better quarterback and learning from his mistakes in 2009. He did that and more, completing nearly 65% of his passes for 2,804 yards this year. With Adam Robinson and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos both out for the Insight Bowl, the focus of the Iowa offense moves more towards Stanzi and he will need to come up with a big game for the Hawkeyes in Tempe. His backup, James Vandenberg, saw limited action this season, but started the final two regular season games in 2009 when Stanzi was injured.
Projected starter: Blaine Gabbert, backup James FranklinKey Player: Blaine Gabbert
Key Stat: 18-7. Gabbert's record as a starter at Missouri.
Analysis: Gabbert's numbers are down across the board other than completion percentage. A lot of that may have to do with his receiving corps. While the big plays aren't there like a year ago, Gabbert has done a very good job managing the game and hasn't turned the ball over very much (seven interceptions, two in a game that was all but wrapped up against Kansas). Gabbert is at his best when he is also a threat to run, as he was in Missouri's last three games. He has an arm on par with any quarterback in the country, but if Iowa can get pressure, there are some questions about his ability to hang in the pocket and make plays.
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