IOWA CITY - Julian Vandervelde hasn't had to look hard this summer to find the quarterback he will be protecting come fall.
On any given day, there's a pretty fair chance Hawkeyes senior field leader Ricky Stanzi can be found in the film room at the Hayden Fry Football Complex.
"I don't think there has ever been a time I've been in the complex that he hasn't been here," Vandervelde, Iowa's senior left guard, said last week of Stanzi. "That's just his desire as a competitor and his desire to succeed.
"Everyone talks about his touchdown-to-interception ratio last year," Vandervelde said of a 17-touchdown, 16-pick Stanzi showing that amounted to one of the few sour notes in an 11-2 Iowa season. "Rick is such a competitor, he wants to show everyone the mistakes he made last year, he won't make again."
All signs point to another solid Hawkeyes season, particularly with a defensive front that ranks as perhaps the nation's best and a corps of running backs that might be as deep and dangerous as any in the Big Ten.
Unproven are new corps of linebackers and cornerbacks and a rebuilt offensive line.
Then there is the matter of Stanzi, who, with an 18-4 record under center over the past two seasons, should be considered a proven strength, but who is approaching his last year like he has much left to prove.
In casual conversation, the 6-foot-4,
230-pounder from Mentor, Ohio, exudes confidence and a sense of command that Vandervelde and his teammates can feed on.
"We definitely all trust him and believe in him, especially seeing the way he works every day," Vandervelde said.
Stanzi is putting in the work to ensure that trust is well-founded.
"Just watching more film, doing things from a mental standpoint that will help me physically," he said of his approach to his final collegiate summer. "That's probably the biggest change. Not that I wasn't watching film last year. You've got to be doing a little more than you were last year.
"That's what everyone has kind of been doing. We're all in the same boat that way."
At the wheel of the ship is Stanzi, whose intent is to guide the Hawkeyes a step farther than they went a year ago, when they fell a game shy of a Big Ten title, losing at Ohio State while he nursed a sprained ankle on the sidelines.
No. 6 all-time at Iowa in career passing yards (4,373) and touchdowns (31), Stanzi said work in June and July will supply the foundation to a potential championship season.
"We have a very good football team," he said. "We have a great coaching staff and everything is pretty much the same (as last season) so we should be happy about the chances we have if we are willing to work hard and focus."
That's why Stanzi is in no rush to fast forward to September.
"We've got some time until the season starts and we're not too eager for the season," he said. "We have to worry about the workout tomorrow and then the next one. The season will be there. It will come in time. We just have to make sure we're ready for it."