Iowa CITY, Iowa - What's wrong with James Vandenberg? It's a popular question these days.
As the engineer for an Iowa offense ranked 98th nationally in scoring (22.2 PPG), the senior quarterback is receiving his fair share of criticism. He knows it comes with the territory as someone who has played the position most of his life.
"Not (playing) as well as I can," the Keokuk product. "I need to be better and as an offense as a whole, we need to be better."
Vandenberg has thrown two touchdowns through six games with new offensive coordinator Greg Davis. That number seemed unlikely after he tossed 25 as a junior and first-year starter.
"I notice," Vandenberg said of his statistics. "I notice more that we just Michigan State at Michigan State and we have another opponent (Penn State) coming in. It's kind of a what-it-takes by all 11 guys. Whether that's throwing it or running it, we've just got to score."
The Hawkeyes have scored enough to be 2-0 in the Big Ten. They've netted 25.0 points in those contests.
The team's passing game, which has delivered key plays in the last two games, has been inconsistent at best. It has ranked 98th in the country for total offense (343.7 YPG) through seven weeks of the CFB season, one spot ahead of Iowa State.
Wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley said mistakes have occurred across the offense to create struggles. He commended Vandenberg's contributions.
"People read stats and they think it's everything when it comes to wins and losses," Martin-Manley said. "It's not. From the quarterback position, you have to be a leader as well."
Center James Ferentz, as line leader, took the blame for the poor production. He was not pleased with Iowa's run blocking in the early going at Michigan State.
"That opens up the passing game," James Ferentz said. "It allows it to blossom out there. That's just the way our offense is built.
"There are too many pressures on Vandenberg right now. We need to do a better job of establishing a strong, firm pocket and letting him get more comfortable back there."
Vandenberg, Martin-Manley and James Ferentz talked more about the passing game in this video: