AMES — For Jared Barnett, sitting out the first four games of Iowa State’s 2012 football season just might have been a blessing in disguise.
That’s because Iowa State’s sophomore quarterback is a smart football player.
“If you’re a smart player and somebody else is taking the reps first, you’re learning from them," said head coach Paul Rhoads in his Monday press conference. "He’s a student of the game. He’s a coach’s son. All of those characteristics to into a guy who probably had just marginal talent from an overall strength of arm and so forth standpoint. To zero in on what needs to be done to be successful and yeah, he has benefited from that.”
Barnett threw for 183 yards and three touchdowns in Iowa State’s 37-23 win over TCU. The most important stat that Barnett compiled was the number one – being that he only turned the football over one time. Turnovers are what ultimatley led to Steele Jantz losing the job.
While watching from the sideline, Barnett also picked up on another fairly significant detail that Iowa State’s offense needed to improve upon.
"Our jet-tempo wasn’t very fast," said Barnett. "I could see that on the sideline. In the TCU game we really picked that up. Just different reads that he wasn’t seeing, I was able to see. I talked to him on the sideline about it. Whenever I got in the game, I was able to pick them up quicker.”
Barnett is also a year older now. He’s seen more live bullets. He’s more mature and understands the offense.
“I felt like I had been playing for four years," said Barnett. "It seemed a lot slower. I was able to slow it down once I got in there. I felt like it was easier to play.”
Barnett wasn’t perfect in the win. He only completed 12-of-21 pass attempts and found plenty of reasons to critique his own performance.
“We did a lot of really good things but I also had a lot of really stupid mistakes," said Barnett. "The interception for one was a terrible mistake. I had a guy open but I just didn’t go through my progression.”
Pick it apart however you’d like. Iowa State football is 4-2 vs. Big 12 opponents when Jared Barnett is the starting quarterabck. He might be small. Barnett’s arm might not be the strongest in college football. It doesn’t matter. The guy is doing something right.
The Right Read: Here’s a little bit of evidence regarding Barnett’s "it" factor when it comes to decision making.
Early in the third quarter of Saturday’s game, Iowa State had the ball on the TCU 1-yard line in its opening drive of the half.
“I saw everybody bunched up on the line," said Barnett. "I felt like they were blitzing."
That’s when Barnett connected with Josh Lenz for the third time in the game – this time on a slant route.
"The slant pass to Josh was a read off of what he saw at the line of scrimmage," said Rhoads. "That wasn’t Coach Mess’ call on that play. It’s what Jared saw to take advantage of it and he took advantage of it.”
"Actually when I stepped onto the line, Josh gave me the slant signal," said Barnett. "I gave him a nod, told him it was okay and he ran it. I can’t take full credit for it because he is the one who called it. Everybody was bunched on the line. I felt like they were blitzing. I didn’t know if (Jeff) Woody would be able to get in so I pulled it out and did the slant.”