Expect a different Steele Jantz in this year’s Cy-Hawk game

AMES —Steele Jantz’s performance in last year’s Cy-Hawk game was dazzling. In fact, some might call it legedary. 

Iowa State’s then junior quarterback threw for four touchdowns in the historic triple-overtime victory over the Hawkeyes. Much of Jantz’s success in that game was due to his ability to scramble, slip and slide past Iowa’s defense. 

Yet, the early word coming out of Ames this week is to not expect an encore this Saturday when the Cyclones invade Kinnick Stadium. 

“Based on how Tulsa bottled up Steele and that teams will prepare for his scrambling ability and his escapability, that part of his game that you saw a year ago, I don’t think will be there,” head coach Paul Rhoads said on Monday. “He’s not going to break contain. He’s not going to go out of that pocket and create the things that he did a year ago. We’re going to have to execute our offense. We’re going to have to execute it very well to have an opportunity to stick around in this football game.”

Jantz produced a workmanlike season opening performance last Saturday against Tulsa. He threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for a score as well. Jantz’s most important stat though was completing 32 of his 45 pass attempts. That’s right at 71 percent for a guy who completed 53 percent a year ago.

“It’s all about decision making. Saturday was better but I still have to do better than I did on Saturday,” said Jantz. “I feel a lot more confident. I feel smarter about it.”

Jantz agrees with his head coach as far as how Iowa will attempt to defend him. However, the senior quarterback still knows that he’ll have to be a threat with his legs.

“They are going to try to stop me but I’ve still got to be able to run and pass,” said Jantz.

OC on the sideline: There’s a subtle change to Iowa State’s offense that some fans might not be aware of in 2012. Former offense coordinator Tom Herman called plays and coached from the press box for the last three seasons.

This year, Courtney Messingham is doing the same from the sideline.

“I thought it worked out really well,” said Jantz of Saturday’s opener. “It’s nice coming off the field and usually you get on the headset but it was cool for him to be right there and not having to scramble for the headset. 

This is something that Rhoads and his staff tested extensively throughout fall camp. In the end, all parties agreed that Messingham being on the sideline was a good move for the team. 

“I think as a play caller, having the opportunity to be down there beside the guys  you coached all week, to see the player’s eyes, to have a calming effect or an energizing effect is a positive,” said Rhoads. “Him being down there I think is a good situation for us.”

Bad haircut: When a reporter asked Rhoads about Jantz’s “Mohawk” on Monday morning, Iowa State’s head coach was quick on his feet.

“I’m not sure it’s a Mohawk. I just think it’s a bad haircut,” said Rhoads.

For the record, Jake Knott is currently sporting a Mohawk. But he’s a linebacker. Ethan Tuftee has one too. But he’s an offensive guard. Mohawks are something you’d expect from a linebacker. But a quarterback?

“The way I kind of see it is when we go out there on Saturday, I don’t want to be like the pretty boy,” said Jantz. “I take that mentality.”

Fair enough.