AMES — A 3-1 Iowa State football team will invade Forth Worth this weekend to take on a top 15 TCU squad and as of Monday, a quarterback competition was set to begin in Ames.
After accounting for four turnovers in Saturday night’s 24-13 loss to Texas Tech, Steele Jantz will defend his starting job against the likes of sophomore Jared Barnett and even redshirt freshman Sam Richardson.
“All three guys are going to go out there and compete,” said Rhoads in his weekly press conference. “We’ll see who practices the best and gives us the most confidence by the time Saturday rolls around.
Rhoads said that he’ll need all week before he is comfortable making any sort of a decision on Saturday’s starter.
Despite the fact that he is looking into the situation at quarterback, Rhoads was also very vocal about the fact that Saturday’s dreadful 189-yard offensive performance (in which the Cyclones only had three passing yards at halftime) was hardly the fault of only one man.
The common saying heard within the sport of football about the quarterback getting too much glory when things are going well and too much blame in the down times was brought up.
“I think that what you’re saying is probably true now as people gather their sledgehammers and go after Steele for his performance and whether they were uplifting him after his first three victories or not, I’m not quite certain,” said Rhoads. “You put 11 guys out on the field and there are a number of coaches in the film room all week long putting together a game plan. There is never one person to blame for any outcome. What you say is true: Too much blame and too much credit.”
Jantz completed 10-of-20 pass attempts in the game for only 73 yards, a touchdown, three interceptions and a fumble. He didn’t get much help from the offensive line though. In fact, when a reporter asked Rhoads about where he saw reason for concern in his offensive line, all that the head coach said was, “I would say probably from tackle to tackle.”
So what now?
Iowa State appears to be in the same spot that it was just a little over a month ago – a spot that the Cyclone Nation should be somewhat familiar with over the last year and a half – without a clear-cut No. 1 quarterback.
The situation is eerily similar to the one that this program was in a year ago at this time. Jantz had led Iowa State to a 3-0 record in the non-conference, only to rattle off four straight losses to begin the Big 12 portion of the schedule. During that fourth loss, a home game against Texas A&M, Rhoads went to his bullpen early by calling on Barnett to relieve a hobbled Jantz. Barnett was anything but perfect in that game, completing only 16 of his 36 pass attempts and Iowa State went on to lose 33-17. But the switch did spark the Cyclones to go on a three game winning streak from that point.
“A&M a year ago, things had happened long enough to make me feel through preparation and the start of that game that a change needed to be made,” said Rhoads. “The Rutgers game was the opposite way with the same two guys. A months worth of preparation for that game and a lot of practices viewed by myself and even the last couple games of that season, I knew it was time to make a change that was best for our football team.”
Rhoads will have Tuesday-Friday of this week to make some sort of a decision. It’s possible that fans and the TCU defense won’t know the starter until just before 2:30 on Saturday afternoon.
“It will take all week,” said Rhoads. “This week, it will be all the days of preparation and me standing right behind the offense watching it take place and seeing faces and watching throws and decision making and what’s taking place on Saturday afternoon down in Fort Worth.”
Rhoads didn’t tip his hat on Monday. Nor should he. He’s going to keep TCU’s second-ranked scoring defense guessing.
More quarterback quotes
Rhoads on his review of Jantz’s game tape…
“He made a number of good plays too and he was under duress a lot. He made some poor decisions with run reads and made some poor decisions with balls that were thrown. Yes, they did contribute to a level of play that is not acceptable to win games in the Big 12 Conference.”
Rhoads on what he’s looking for out of a quarterback…
“I think the guy who is out there playing at that particular position has to be performing well and giving us a chance to win. That’s what you’re looking for. Is that position giving us an opportunity to win? Is making a change going to give us a better opportunity to win? That’s the answers that we have to come up with as coaches both during the week and on the sideline game day.”
Rhoads on Jantz being impressive in practice…
“I don’t think it is what we are going to see in practice, it’s what we’ve got to see on Saturday. Obviously what we are seeing in practice excites us. That’s what he’s the starter. That’s also why he is 3-1 so we expect him to keep doing those things in practice. That’s performing well, throwing balls accurately, making the right decisions at the line of scrimmage when he is faced with making decisions himself but more importantly, we need to see him do it on game day when the lights are on.”
Rhoads on redshirt freshman Sam Richardson
“He is where we want him to be for being a redshirt freshman in the program who has played one series of football late in a game and led us to a touchdown. He is behind two other guys who have won a lot of football games at this level.”
Junior guard Ethan Tuftee went down and left the Texas Tech game in the fourth quarter with what looked to be a knee injury. Rhoads said that after being cleared by doctors, Tuftee will be limited in practice this week but plans on playing against TCU.