Cyclone QB Situation Still Unclear

By John Campbell, TV9 Sports

By Rob Gray, Reporter

AMES, Iowa — Steele Jantz vs. Jared Barnett.

It's the Iowa State football team's second annual fully up-for-grabs preseason quarterback competition, which officially begins today.

The winner will be announced ...

"I don't think it will happen earlier then our full set if scrimmages (conclude)," Cyclone Coach Paul Rhoads said Thursday during Media Day. "I doubt we'll be prepared to announce it coming off the field. I was thinking about waiting until the end of August. I don't know, what do you think?"

Good question — offered in jest.

Rhoads eventually pegged the big reveal likely to be "close to the 18th of August."

Cue the drama.

Tension.

Same script, slightly different leading cast for a team that seeks to churn up a third bowl trip in four seasons.

"I feel like it's always a competition," said Barnett, a sophomore who threw for a career-best 378 yards and three touchdowns in last season's stunning 37-31 double-overtime win over then-No. 2 Oklahoma State. "Even during the season it's a competition. Like in the (Pinstripe) Bowl game. That was a perfect example."

Barnett, who completed 50 percent of his passes last season, started that game, which ended in a 27-13 loss to Rutgers at Yankee Stadium in New York City.

Jantz — who led stirring early-season comeback wins over Northern Iowa, Iowa and Connecticut — replaced Barnett in the second quarter of that Bronx-based bowl matchup.

Neither produced gaudy state lines.

Barnett, who displaced an injured Jantz in the starting lineup in week seven, went 2-for-7 for 23 yards.

Jantz completed 15 of 31 passes for 197 yards, but threw two interceptions.

Hence the wide-open competition.

Again.

"It's deadlocked," Rhoads said, adding that redshirt freshman Sam Richardson will also get plenty of reps in camp.

For good reason.

Both Jantz and Barnett shined at times with gutsy efforts, but struggled to find long-lasting consistency.

Their cumulative completion percentage?

51.8.

Combined touchdowns and interceptions?

16 and 17, respectively.

"I know how easily things can go up and down," said Jantz, who also ran for two touchdowns in 2011 until a foot injury pushed him to the sidelines.

Last fall, Jantz battled Jerome Tiller for the starting spot until the latter became an academic casualty.

Tiller's now a wide receiver.

Barnett didn't throw a pass in 2011 until taking the field Oct. 15 in a 52-17 loss at Missouri.

But he started the next seven games, impressing coaches with his calm, focused demeanor while engineering narrow wins over then-No. 19 Texas Tech, Kansas, and the mighty Cowboys.

"A lot of film watching has showed me I'm not anywhere near where I want to be," Barnett said. "I think I made some good plays this past year, but I also left a lot of plays on the field. A lot of things that could have been touchdowns and extra points on the board.

Rhoads and first-year offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham want to see Jantz and Barnett take care of the ball better and throw with more precision.

Decision-making ranks among the paramount concerns.

Boldness is good.

Brashness, not so much.

"One of things I think it comes back to is having quarterbacks that understand — take advantage of what the defense gives you," Messingham said. "If that means throwing a hitch 10 times in a row because they're giving you a hitch, take that hitch ten times in a row. Don't try to force it down the field and make a poor decision."

Jantz, a senior who led ISU to a 3-1 start last season, is primed for another chance to prove himself.

"It's been a great summer," the former Hawaii player said. "Physically, I've never felt this good. I'm excited to see how this translates to camp."

He's not alone.

Let the countdown begin.

"I want to see them make the plays that are in front of them," Messingham said. "That's the biggest thing. You can't leave plays out on the field. When people are open, we need to throw strikes. When people aren't open we need to be smart with the football."
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