For the second straight year, another Big 12 opponent results in another loss for starting quarterback Steele Jantz. Iowa State fans are already calling for the benching to bring in sophomore Jared Barnett or even redshirt freshman Sam Richardson. Instead of just blaming the quarterback like plenty of fans do because it’s easy, let’s examine the team overall and what contributed to a lackluster offensive showing.
I’ve certainly been a continued supporter of Jantz throughout the season. Backing up the decision to make him starter and still backing him up after everyone was already calling for his head after FCS opponent Western Illinois, just bringing in the backup doesn’t always equal success.
Remember, when Barnett came in last year to start, it wasn’t his arm or decision making that gave the Cyclones three straight wins. In those wins, the running game picked up 811 yards of offense and seven touchdowns combined. In the next three losses? 426 yards of offense and three touchdowns combined.
Some of that was by Barnett, but when his most successful game on the ground was against Kansas, I would expect Jantz to have an even better day throwing the ball – the Jayhawks ranked 110th in passing defense last year and currently rank 88th.
There’s no doubt that Jantz deserves a lot of the criticism is last week’s loss to Texas Tech. In his career, he’s been able to defeat all the non-conference opponents (6-0) but has yet to find his first victory in Big 12 play (0-5). But two turnovers can have an asterisk by them – his second interception was popped up into the air by a defender and the third interception came when the game was already decided. Like the media isn’t killing Tony Romo for all five interceptions against Chicago last night, let’s be a little reasonable with Jantz.
The ratio of touchdowns to interceptions still is bad tied at seven, the passing efficiency has dropped to 66.9 percent, but Texas Tech is ranked first in total defense, passing defense, and fifth in scoring defense. It wasn’t just Jantz making mistakes, he was getting no time in the pocket and having to take off with the ball 19 times against that pressure. That doesn’t include the amount of times he scrambled and then threw the ball on the run.
Next up are two teams that are currently ranked in the top 15. Luckily the defensive pressure should get easier, but if Jantz has to continue to be the leading running back for this team (currently leads all team carries with 53), then this team won’t win games in the Big 12 – and some jobs should be replaced on the offensive line.
Each week in practice will be a competition for who will start for the team. The leash may be getting shorter for Jantz, but he will likely still be the starter whether fans like it or not. But just calling for the backup wouldn’t have helped against the Red Raiders’ defense last week, and it probably wouldn’t help against TCU this week.
Whoever gets the quarterback start in Fort Worth this Saturday, remember to take a look at the team’s entire performance before criticizing just one position.
Brian Spaen is the lead editor for Clones Confidential. Keep up with the latest sports fails and disdain toward the Big Ten by following him on Twitter.