enCYCLONEpedia: The "Jantz Dance"

Kirk Haaland

Contributor

Photo credit to Steve Fry/Wallstars

Read more of Kirk's work at enCYCLONEpedia.com! 

Steele Jantz and the Iowa State offense have made this a topic for Cyclone fans everywhere to concern over; turnovers. Over the past 16 games, the Cyclones have turned the ball over 43 times while only gaining 29.

Paramount in any Cyclone turnover discussion has been the play of Steele Jantz and was the main driver to him losing his starting spot in 2011. Through the first three games this season the turnover issue has begun to rear its head again, especially for the Iowa State offense.

Specifically, concerns are starting to pile up at the feet of one Steele Jantz. The fine line of Jantz’s play resulting in great plays or turnovers from trying to do too much has proven to be quite thin.

Through three games in 2012 the Cyclone offense has turned the ball over on 17.4 percent of their possessions, the 20th most in the NCAA and 8th most among BCS teams. Of the eight total turnovers by the offense so far this season six of them would make Jantz the responsible culprit.

However, even with that being the case - and perhaps this speaks more to how poorly Jantz secured the ball in 2011 - Jantz has improved his ball security when compared to last season.

First off, let me explain the chart above. Over the summer, I posted some of these same numbers when comparing 2011 Steele Jantz to 2011 Jared Barnett in an effort to account for the number of times that Barnett fumbled but ISU happened to recover the ball. While everything can never be accounted for, the point was to account for what could be tracked. They weren’t actually turnovers for Jared Barnett, but you should be able to see what I’m driving at here.

Moving on the columns from left to right show the total number of snaps each quarterback took, their pass attempts, rush attempts and the plays where they handed the ball off. The following three columns account for interceptions thrown, number of times fumbled and the number of those fumbles lost.

Next you have the percentage of pass attempts that resulted in interceptions (INT %), the percentage of total plays with a fumble and the percentage of total plays where the fumble was lost. (The theory there being to account for every time the quarterback touches the ball and having an opportunity to fumble.) The next two fumble percentage columns are the same calculation but they are based on that quarterback’s rush attempts instead of total plays.

Finally in the last two columns are you will find the percentage of actual turnovers (not incorporating the fumbles that weren’t lost) based off of the total number of plays and theoretical turnover percentage that includes all fumbles and interceptions compared to total plays.

The first thing to notice is that Jantz’s interception percentage has come down 0.5 percent, but how much of that is due to the level of competition this year when compared with the team’s he saw last year (UNI, Iowa, at Connecticut, Texas, at Baylor, A&M, and Rutgers in the bowl game). Nevertheless, the percentage is lower so far and that is a good thing. However, Jantz has fumbled at a higher rate than last year and again has lost all of them (I credited the zone-read fumble at Iowa to Jantz).

Obviously, that leads to a higher fumble rate than last season when just compared to the fumble rate of his rush attempts. While it has climbed from 3.57 percent to 5.88 percent the sample size is still somewhat smaller and Barnett fumbled on 10.58 percent of rushes in 2011.

Getting to the end of the story and whole point of this mumbling and bumbling, Jantz’s actual turnover percentage in 2011 was 3.17 percent. Meaning that on 3.17 percent of total plays he threw an interception or lost a fumble. That is compared to 1.79 percent for Barnett in 2011. So far in 2012 Jantz’s actual turnover percentage is 2.84 percent. Lower is better but we‘ll need to see how that progresses as the competition is escalated.

The final theoretical turnover percentage results in the same numbers for Jantz because all of his fumbles have been lost, but I left that on the table because it shows how Barnett compares from his time in 2011.

Again, you can decide for yourself how relevant and important you think those numbers are because they were in fact not turnovers because they weren’t lost. It would also be ideal if we could somehow incorporate a rating system of good throws versus bad throws because I can’t account for drops, passes tipped, or where exactly the blame for an interception should go or if the quarterback should get credit for a “lucky touchdown” (for example the Albert Gary catch at Oklahoma last year that first deflected off the facemask of a defensive lineman). In the end, maybe it all balances out.

Yes, the turnovers thus far should be a cause for concern and it so far this year Iowa State is one of the most turnover prone team’s in the country, but Steele Jantz, so far is doing better this year than last. So that is either a consolation prize or hopefully the start to a better overall trend for Jantz and Iowa State.

The way he plays and the amount of risk reward that he brings to the table will likely always be a delicate balance for the coaching staff. The “Jantz Dance” likely won’t disappear any time soon but maybe it won’t be as dicey as we move forward. That well could be the most explosive variable for success for the remainder of the 2012 Cyclone football season.

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