AMES — Memo to Iowa State fans once again wary of Steele Jantz as the Cyclones’ starting quarterback:
Texas coach Mack Brown disagrees with you.
“(He’s) improved so much from last year,” said Brown, whose BCS-rated No. 17 team (7-2, 4-2) faces ISU (5-4, 2-4) in Saturday’s 11 a.m. ABC-televised Big 12 game at Austin. “He can beat you with his feet and his arm. Those are the ones that scare you to death. He can beat you with off-schedule plays. (Texas Tech quarterback) Seth (Doege) can do that. But Seth’s not going to run much. Steele will pull the ball down and run with it without question.”
Jantz threw for 191 yards in Saturday’s 35-20 loss to Oklahoma, completing 20-of-40 passes and tossing one late interception.
Hardly gaudy numbers, but teammates were impressed by Jantz’s level-headedness.
“When he lets the game come to him, I think he can do anything he wants to,” Cyclone running back Jeff Woody said. “I think (earlier this season) he was trying to force plays in there when they didn’t need to be forced and I think now he’s in a little bit more of a comfort zone, letting the game come to him and taking what they give.”
Saturday, that appeared to be running lanes, which closed down quickly.
Jantz ran the ball as many times (11) as ISU’s top two tailbacks in Saturday’s 35-20 loss to Oklahoma.
He gained 21 yards, a figure diminished by three sacks.
Shontrelle Johnson and James White gained 55 yards, a number enhanced by a 19-yard run by Johnson and a 20-yard carry for White.
“We finally made some people miss,” Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads said. “And whether it’s been our running backs, quarterbacks or wide receivers, we haven’t made a lot of people miss this season. If we block a run for six (yards), we gain six or seven. If we throw a pass at an eight-yard mark, we get an eight- or 10(-yard gain). An explosive team’s component of that is making people miss and we did that a little bit on Saturday against good players.”
They’ll need more Saturday against the nation’s 104th-ranked rushing defense.
Brown identified stopping the run Saturday as paramount to the Longhorns’ fortunes.
The Cyclones have averaged 118.2 yards per game on the ground in Big 12 play — better than only Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders compensate by deploying the conference’s second-rated passing offense.
Iowa State is mired at ninth in that category, as well.
But that’s not remotely all on the taciturn Jantz, who has declined to be interviewed for over a month.
Dropped passes have become a chronic and widespread offensive inhibitor.
Last week, banged up big-play receiver Josh Lenz failed to control what could have been a big gainer in the first quarter.
Emerging threat Jarvis West dropped a ball on the numbers that would have at least gone for a first down inside the Sooners’ five-yard line in the second quarter.
And Aaron Horne continued to struggle, missing an intermediate pass in Oklahoma territory.
Rhoads said the recent issues stem from inconsistent fundamentals.
White echoed those sentiments.
“You’ve just got to look it all the way in through your tuck,” said White, who has caught 37 passes the past two seasons. “You can’t take your eyes off of it. So we’ve got to do a better job of catching the ball, particularly the wideouts, because they mainly get most of the passes.”
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