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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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Ravens reportedly agree to a deal keeping John Harbaugh in Baltimore long term

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USA Today Sports

Ravens reportedly agree to a deal keeping John Harbaugh in Baltimore long term

The Ravens have reportedly agreed in principle to a new contract extension with head coach John Harbaugh, a move already being praised by national pundits everywhere. 

It was nearly a month ago that the Ravens announced Harbaugh would be returning as the team’s head coach in 2019, which was noteworthy considering his status as a potential lame duck head coach.

In the same release, the team announced they were working towards a contract extension with Harbaugh, whose current deal was set to expire next year.

Despite reports from national NFL insiders, including Jason La Canfora and Peter King, that Harbaugh might prefer to hit free agency as a highly sought-after head coach after the 2019 season, it appears the Ravens will keep him in Baltimore for the foreseeable future. 

This news comes on the heels of a busier-than-usual coaching carousel, with a quarter of the 32 NFL teams changing head coaches in the last month, including two AFC North rivals. Harbaugh almost certainly would have been the cream of the crop among coaching free agents no matter when he became available, so the Ravens were looking to lock him up long term.

After a tough November home loss to the Steelers that put the team at 4-5, Harbaugh was asked about his job security, and he remained steadfast and confident.

"I've never been someone who's worried about keeping a job," Harbaugh said. "It's always been, for me, [about] doing the job. I've got a bunch of great coaches and a bunch of great players that bust their tails every day to do the best job they can. I feel really good about the way this team has been coached for the last 11 years, and for the last number of weeks we've been in the season. So, there are no regrets. Never been any regrets here with me."

After that game, the Ravens rattled off six wins in seven games to make the playoffs, and many players credited Harbaugh with keeping the team together. It was prior to Week 16 when the front office announced Harbaugh would be returning no matter how the season ended, but the strong finish and AFC North title certainly made the decision easier.

A coach with a special teams background, Harbaugh is an anomaly in the current era of young, offensive-minded head coaches. He won Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, and holds a 104-72 career record in Baltimore.

The terms of the new deal have not yet been released, but it will be interesting how many years the team is committing to Harbaugh.

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Bradley Beal's agent says guard's not looking for a trade: 'He wants to win'

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Bradley Beal's agent says guard's not looking for a trade: 'He wants to win'

Bradley Beal, his agent Mark Bartlestein told Bleacher Report, would like to stay in Washington - even as he's a hot topic among front offices as the trade deadline approaches.

From Bleacher Report:

His agent, Mark Bartelstein, is not looking for a trade. "Brad wants to win, Bartelstein told B/R. "He wants to win at the highest level, and he wants to compete for championships. I think he's seeing progress, and he's going to do everything he can to lead this team. They got themselves into a huge hole, and he's going to do his best to get them out of it.

The Wizards are facing tough decisions when it comes to the future of the franchise as this season's trade deadline approaches. Beal, as NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig detailed this week, is among the most tradable assets they have, especially when it comes to their three major contracts. But owner Ted Leonsis took a firm stance against tanking while speaking to reporters in London, and Beal is integral to their playoff hopes with John Wall sidelined. 

This isn't the first time this season that Beal has denied wanting to be anywhere but DC. When drama swirled around the team earlier this season, Beal denied a report that he had requested a trade.

"That's nonsense," he said at the time. "I heard it earlier before the game and I was like, 'If it didn't come from the horse's mouth, it wasn't me.' I got this Washington jersey on and I come here and work everyday, you know, until otherwise. This is where I wanna be."

Earlier this season, it was reported that the Raptors were interested in Beal but couldn't afford what the Wizards were asking for him. According to the latest report on Beal from Bleacher Report, there are a number of teams who may still be interested. 

Again, from Bleacher Report:

There are so many teams in the mix trying to make that extra push that want Beal," a Western Conference executive told B/R.

But even if some fans are clamoring for a big trade at the deadline, the price tag for Beal - who had 26 points in the Wizards' comeback win over the Knicks this week - only seems to be rising. 

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