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Iowa's Ferentz sticking with Vandenberg at QB

Iowa's Ferentz sticking with Vandenberg at QB

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg has had one of the most miserable senior seasons anyone could imagine.

It's not going to cost him his job.

Coach Kirk Ferentz reiterated Tuesday that Vandenberg is his starter for Saturday's game at Northwestern (6-2, 2-2 Big Ten).

Many wondered if Iowa (4-3, 2-1) might go in another direction after Vandenberg and the Hawkeyes were dismantled by Penn State 38-14. But Ferentz was adamant - as he's been all season - that Vandenberg will be his quarterback until his eligibility is up.

``He's our starting quarterback,'' Ferentz said. ``We all believe in James. I think I speak for everybody involved in our program, team and coaches.''

By many measures, Vandenberg has been at the helm of one of the nation's worst passing attacks.

Vandenberg, who threw 25 touchdown passes in 2011, has thrown just three in seven games this season. That's the lowest number for every BCS-affiliated conference team in the country.

The Hawkeyes are averaging just 5.7 yards per attempt, a key tool for measuring the overall success of a passing attack. Only Washington, at 5.6 yards, is lower among major programs; Northwestern, it so happens, averages just 5.7 as well.

Iowa is also 118th out of 124 teams in passer rating and 105th in yards per game. In essence, everything has gone wrong in the passing game - something Vandenberg is well aware of.

``It just all comes down to execution,'' he said. ``Blocking long enough. Running the right routes. Throwing the ball to them. Catching and getting yards after the catch. I think in every one of those phases, we can get better.''

The one moment that perhaps best encapsulates the ineptitude of Iowa's passing game this season came against the Nittany Lions.

Already down 24-0, Vandenberg's first pass of the second half was a bullet - right at linebacker Michael Mauti. Whatever life was left out of a stadium that had already been booing the Hawkeyes was gone after that interception.

Ferentz was quick to take responsibility for the loss and deflect blame from Vandenberg.

``To evaluate what happened Saturday, any one player's performance or job status, that would be tough to do. There wasn't much that went well,'' Ferentz said. ``To try to say that it was one person or one area I think would be missing the boat. It was a thorough beating we experienced, and we played a team that really played well. We didn't come close to matching their tempo or their execution.''

Vandenberg clearly hasn't been the only problem with Iowa's passing game.

For a variety of reasons, things haven't clicked under first-year offensive coordinator Greg Davis. Production is down across the board except for running back Mark Weisman, and he's recovering from a sprained ankle.

Iowa is averaging a shade under 21 points per game, 10th in the Big Ten.

Redshirt freshman Jake Rudock has been groomed to replace Vandenberg since the day he arrived on campus. Though Ferentz didn't insert him late in last week's blowout loss, he appears to hold Rudock in the same high regard as Vandenberg.

``I think he's got the potential to be a good quarterback,'' Ferentz said. ``I think he's a good thrower with good command and works extremely hard. He's a lot like James Vandenberg in my mind. He's got all the characteristics that give a guy a chance to be a good player. He's into it, very smart, very competitive.''

But unless Vandenberg gets hurt, Rudock won't get a chance to prove all that on the field until 2013. Ferentz isn't ready to give up on Vandenberg just yet.

``As long as they want me in there, the boos, all the criticism, none of that really bothers me,'' Vandenberg said.

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Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP

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The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards returned to Washington, D.C. on Friday down 0-2 to the Raptors in their best-of-seven 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series

The team lost a close one in Game 1 and was run out of the building in Game 2. Game 3 was must-win, and the Wizards knew what needed to happen in order for them to secure the victory.

"Everybody eats." 

That's the phrase that has defined the Wizards throughout much of the season They are at their best when John Wall is making players and feeding his teammates.

On Friday night, the Wizards beat the Raptors 122-103 to force at least a Game 5. Wall finished with 28 points and 14 assists.

Bradley Beal finally broke out of his slump for 28 points and  Marcin Gortat, Mike Scott and Kelly Oubre all chipped in with at least 10 points.

But the stat sheet wasn't the only place where everybody eats.

Here's Marcin Gortat from Game 3. 

But if pantomiming isn't your thing, here is Bradley Beal actually eating popcorn during Game 3.

So what did we learn in Game 3? Well, for starters: "Everybody Eats" is not just a motto, it is a way of life.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

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With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

The Toronto Raptors were only going to hold Bradley Beal down for so long. After two so-so games to begin the Wizards-Raptors playoff series, the All-Star shooting guard was bound to find his way offensively and that arrival came in a Game 3 win on Friday night.

Beal was brilliant and much more in line with what he's shown in the postseason throughout his career. Game 2 was his worst playoff game as an NBA player, he scored only nine points. Game 3 was one of his best on the postseason stage, or at least one of his most timely and important.

The Wizards needed more from Beal to give themsevles a chance in this series. An 0-3 deficit would have been a death sentence. His production is so key to their success that head coach Scott Brooks and point guard John Wall met with Beal in between Games 2 and 3 to figure out how to get him going.

Whether that was the catalyst or not, the results followed. Beal poured in 28 points in 10-for-19 shooting with four rebounds, four assists and three steals. He hit four threes, more than he had in the first two games combined.

Beal wasted no time to make an impact scoring the ball. His first points came on a quick burst to the basket where he stopped on a dime, turned around and banked it in. By the end of the first quarter, he had 12 points in 11 minutes.

“I just wanted to be aggressive, get shots that I wanted which is what they were going to force me to take," Beal said.

After Game 2, Brooks and Beal described how physical the Raptors were defending him. They were holding on to him and staying close, even when he wasn't moving off the ball.

Brooks saw a difference in how Beal responded to that in Game 3.

"Brad came out and was looking to go towards the basket and not just letting them hold him and going along with it. He didn’t want to dance with his opponent, he wanted to get away from them. That was a critical part of his success," Brooks said.

Beal's 28 points were as much as he scored in Games 1 and 2 together and just about what he averaged through four games against the Raptors during the regular season (28.8). By halftime of Game 3, Beal had 21 points on 8-for-11 from the field.

Beal hit two threes in the first quarter and another two in the second quarter. Several of those threes were set up by Wall, who used the meeting with Brooks and Beal to ask how he can set him up better as the point guard.

In Game 3, they were on the same page.

"I do think this man [John Wall] next to me, he creates and facilitates for the whole team and gets everybody easy shots," Beal said. "I talk to you guys all the time and I can’t tell you the last time I actually got a regular catch and shoot three just in a regular half court set. When he came back, I got like three or four off the bat."

What Beal did in Game 3 is what the Wizards are used to seeing from him this time of the year. Despite being only 24 years old, he has a strong track record in the playoffs.

Through 37 career postseason games, Beal is averaging 22.3 points, more than his career average of 18.7 in the regular season. In each of his previous three postseason runs, he has averaged more points during the playoffs than he did in the regular seasons leading up.

That production has earned him the nickname 'Playoff Beal' and when he goes off like he did in Game 3, good things usually happen. The Wizards are 10-6 in the playoffs during his career when he scores 25 points or more.

Wall also boasts impressive career numbers in the playoffs. When the Wizards have both of their stars playing at their best, they are hard to beat. With peak Beal on board, this series looks a lot different than it did not that long ago.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

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