By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
AMES, IA. - Five Big 12 Conference schools return their starting quarterbacks - Oklahoma, West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas Tech and TCU. Three schools have named starters who will take over the position this season - Nick Florence at Baylor, Dayne Crist at Kansas and Wes Lunt at Oklahoma State.
That leaves Texas as the only school yet to name a starter. Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads announced Tuesday that senior Steele Jantz will start for the Cyclones when they open the season against Tulsa at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 1 at Jack Trice Stadium. Jantz and sophomore Jared Barnett had been competing for the starting job.
"The ideal situation is for Steele Jantz to take this and run with it and be our quarterback for 13 games," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. "I don't know if Jared will get on the field against Tulsa but if he does it doesn't mean that we've got two quarterbacks. It just means we want to get our second guy some competition in the opener."
Jantz, who won the starting job last season after joining the team as a junior-college transfer, and Barnett each quarterbacked the Cyclones to three wins last season. Jantz started the first seven games but lost the starting job after suffering a foot injury and he also had problems with turnovers. He completed 138 of 259 passes for 1,519 yards for 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Barnett took over when Jantz was struggling and injured. He completed 50 percent of his passes for 1,201 yards for six touchdowns and six interceptions. He also was second on the team with 437 yards rushing. In Iowa State's signature victory over Oklahoma State, Barnett passed for 376 yards and three touchdowns while also gaining 84 yards rushing.
Rhoads is a former defensive coordinator who says one of the scariest aspects in that job is facing a quarterback who can run either during an ad lib play or a planned run. He said that Jantz has improved his running ability compared to last season.
"Steele is a better athlete and a better runner than he was last year," Rhoads said. "Our quarterback has to make good decisions, be accurate throwing the ball and be productive with their feet. Overall, Steele emerged in all those areas. The whole team has seen it play out on the field."
Depth At Running Back
While the decision regarding the starting quarterback was important, Iowa State's offense is not as pass happy as others in the Big 12. The Cyclones have averaged nearly 166 yards per game on the ground in Paul Rhoads' three seasons.
"We are going to run the football," Rhoads said. "We think we need to be a run-first football team that sets the pass up with the run game."
Shontrelle Johnson was a productive starter in the first four games last season before a neck injury nearly ended his career. He has been cleared to return and brings a break-away threat. In Johnson's absence, James White became the team's leading rusher with 743 yards; he is a combination of speed and power. Jeff Woody, who scored the game-winning touchdown in the Cyclones' upset of Oklahoma State, is a bruising, between-the-tackles runner.
While the Cyclones have depth and talent at wide receiver, they figure to line up in conventional formations that feature two running backs and two or three wide receivers. The running backs will be utilized in the passing game as was as running the football.
"We are going to run the football and that is going to be our emphasis when we go out to practice," offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham said. "We need to be a physical football team that is going to run it."
Junior Deon Broomfield is a man without a position. He is six feet tall and weighs 195 pounds and his listed as both a linebacker and a safety on the Iowa State roster.
"I'm not sure what he is," coach Paul Rhoads said. "I'm not sure what he isn't."
Broomfield could see action at both positions. And while he has the size that is most associated with a player who lines up at safety or cornerback, he's comfortable with playing linebacker ... even if that means he's considerably closer to offensive linemen who are anxious to flatten him with a block.
"If I get pulled into a run, I'm right there," Broomfield said. "It's different, because you're not used to a 300-pound guy coming out to touch you that quick.
"It's fun to make those guys miss."
* Senior linebacker Jake Knott's younger brother Luke is a freshman on the Iowa State roster. When he was in eighth grade, a bone disease was discovered in Luke's knee that threatened his athletic career. However, treatment and rehabilitation resolved the problem. "To get over that knee hurdle and get to the position I am I now, it's amazing," Luke Knott said. "My brother and I have a great bond. He is my brother, but he is also one of my best friends."
* The kicking job is still a battle between freshman Cole Netten and junior Edwin Arceo. Rhoads said the decision as to which player handles field goals and extra points might not be decided until next week and the final decision might not come until game day. "Our kicking game must become a strength of our football team," Rhoads said.
* The numbers are proof regarding the challenge facing the defensive line. Last season, Iowa State allowed 193 yards a game rushing and recorded just 17 sacks. Rhoads noted that the Cyclones' front four needs to do a better job of stuffing the run and pressuring the quarterback.