The quarterback competition at Iowa State has been settled, at least for now.
“Steele Jantz will be our starting quarterback in the home opener versus Tulsa,” head coach Paul Rhoads announced on Tuesday.
Jantz had been battling with sophomore Jared Barnett for the starting job going back to last season when each had their turn at leading the Cyclones to a 6-7 finish.
Rhoads cited three criteria he looks for in a quarterback: decision making, production with their feet, and the ability to throw the ball accurately, something both quarterbacks struggled with a season ago.
“We think Steels has come out of it performing at the highest level in all of those three areas and thus has earned the starting job going into week one,” Rhoads added.
Jantz played in seven games in 2011 completing just 53.3% of his passes to go along with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Jantz suffered a foot injury during the season’s third game and was an injury Rhoads believed he never fully recovered from the entire season.
Now at full strength, Rhoads believes he has the man to get Iowa State back to a bowl game for the third time in his four seasons in Ames.
“He has an uncanny ability to be productive running and throwing the ball because of his feet. Fans got to see of glimpse of that last year and we’ve certainly seen it again this fall camp and we’re anxious to see him put that on display,” Rhoads said.
Given the fact Jantz is the senior and is 100% healthy, Rhoads decision isn’t all the surprising. Assuming he’s able to cut down on turnovers, he’s a guy that can put a lot of pressure on a defense with ability outside the pocket.
The good news for the Cyclones is that should Jantz get hurt or not play with the ability he’s shown through fall camp, they have another guy waiting in the wings who has already been in the line of fire and proven he’s capable of winning big games.
But only one guy can trot out there at a time and at least for now, that guy is Jantz. Assuming he stays healthy, he's a guy capable of putting up some big numbers which would be a welcomed relief for an offense that averaged just 22.7 points a game in 2011.