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Redemption? Steele Jantz's Mind Goes Deeper Than That
By Rob Gray, Reporter
AMES, Iowa Call it a shot at redemption, with an asterisk.
Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz gets his last chance to make a good Big 12 season-opening first impression in Saturday's 6 p.m. game against Texas Tech at Jack Trice Stadium.
Both teams stand 3-0 and the Cyclones own a two-game win streak in the series.
"It's not so much redeem myself as it's redeem the team," said Jantz, who is 6-0 as a starter in nonconference games, but 0-4 while taking the first snaps in conference play.
"I think in a lot of ways I let the team down last year."
Not early, when the senior transfer starred in comeback wins over Northern Iowa, Iowa and Connecticut.
But the foot injury he sustained while personally rallying from a three interception performance against the Huskies lingered and hurt his play in the Big 12.
He doesn't make excuses for it.
Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads, however, said the banged-up foot took away one of his chief attributes, mobility.
Jantz is fully healed and it shows on the stat sheet.
His completion percentage has climbed from 53.3 to 70.1.
He's turned his touchdown-to-interception ratio positive, at 6-to-4.
"I think the fact that this is the first league game that he's been healthy in gives us a chance to start to see what level of player he is," Rhoads said. "Now, (three of those nonconference wins) are against BCS-level opponents, so you can't take that away from him just because he hasn't registered a Big 12 victory yet."
It's likely the three-point favorite Red Raiders will try to take away ISU's running game in an attempt to force Jantz to beat them through the air.
The Cyclones gashed Tech for 368 yards on the ground in last season's 41-7 rout at Lubbock.
Jantz's backup, Jared Barnett, rushed for 92 of those yards and a touchdown as a starter in that game.
Saturday, James White, Shontrelle Johnson and a cleared-to-play Jeff Woody (knee) will shoulder the load against a stouter-than-usual Red Raiders defensive front allowing just 75.3 yards per game on the ground.
"If you look at the Big 12 stats, we're not up at the top," Rhoads said of his rushing offense, which averages 175 yards per game. "Everybody in this league is running it and we've got to run it better, in my opinion. We're undefeated when we rush for over 200 yards, I think. I know that when we allow that much the record goes the other direction."
Jantz can serve as a solid auxiliary source for ground gains.
He has two runs of 17 yards or more this season, making his route to redemption a journey that doesn't necessarily depend on his arm.
"I think a lot of games we should have won we lost last year," Jantz said. "So I don't want that to happen to our team this year. A lot of the redemption, you might say, is kind of from that aspect of it."
PATCH WORK: Coaches for both ISU and Texas Tech will wear arm patches in Saturday's game. It's "Coach to Cure MD" week, which is designed to raise awareness of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Most FBS teams are participating in the campaign, including Iowa.